Hong Kong police officer expected to be selected as payload specialist in fourth batch of astronaut selection

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John Lee met with the Hong Kong candidates who were about to travel to Beijing to participate in the secondary selection of the national manned space program's payload specialist.

24th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) It has been revealed that a female police officer from Hong Kong is expected to be selected as a payload specialist in the upcoming fourth batch of astronaut selection. This marks the first time that a candidate from the Hong Kong and Macao region will be chosen for such a role. The selection process, set to commence in September 2022, aims to identify 12 to 14 individuals as reserve astronauts.

Professor Sun Dong, the Secretary for Innovation, Technology, and Industry, expressed his confidence in Hong Kong’s representation among the selected candidates and hinted at forthcoming positive news. While the specific details regarding the officer’s department and her background in the field of scientific research are yet to be disclosed, it is known that she holds a doctoral degree. The final results of the selection process are eagerly awaited.

A payload specialist is a scientist or engineer who conducts various scientific experiments and investigations in space. They are considered non-career astronauts, and this selection specifically targets researchers engaged in space science research and its related applications. The female police officer, with her impressive credentials, has proven herself as a formidable candidate. However, the official announcement confirming her selection is still pending.

The selection process for reserve astronauts involves three stages: preliminary selection, secondary selection, and final selection. Approximately 120 individuals from Hong Kong have applied for this opportunity. Secretary Sun Dong indicated that around 40 candidates have progressed to the preliminary selection, with more than ten advancing to the secondary selection. It is expected that at least one candidate from Hong Kong will be chosen as a reserve astronaut, and the official announcement regarding the final results is anticipated soon.

The identities and backgrounds of the participants in the Hong Kong payload specialist selection remain highly confidential. In a previous meeting held at Government House, Chief Executive John Lee met with the Hong Kong candidates who were preparing for the secondary selection in Beijing. However, only their backs were featured in the released photographs, revealing a notable presence of female candidates.

Wong Wai-fun, a researcher at the China Astronaut Research and Training Centre and the Chief Designer of the Manned Space Program, clarified that there are no gender constraints for the selection of payload specialists from Hong Kong and Macao. During the final selection stage, candidates undergo comprehensive assessments, which include thorough evaluations of their personal circumstances and medical examinations for both the candidates and their cohabitants to detect any hereditary or communicable diseases.

When asked about the potential responsibilities of future payload specialists from Hong Kong and Macao, Wong Wai-fun explained that their primary task would involve scientific research on space stations. Regarding the possibility of participating in future manned lunar missions, Wong stated that lunar astronauts would require flight experience, suggesting a preference for professional astronauts to undertake such missions.