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US astronaut praises China's space program

Updated: 2013-09-27 01:30
By Zhao Xinying ( China Daily)

US astronaut praises China's space program
Chinese astronaut Liu Yang (R) talks with her US counterpart Sandra Magnus in the first meeting between female astronauts from the two countries at Beihang University in Beijing on Thursday. Both also shared their experiences in space with students from universities, and middle and primary schools. Photo by Zhang Wei / China Daily

A female astronaut from the United States has spoken highly of the development of China's aerospace program, and of the nation's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

In an exchange between female astronauts from China and the US held on Thursday at Beihang University, or Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Sandra Magnus, a US astronaut, said she was impressed by the progress China has made.

"The space program in China is very impressive," she said. "You have had a space station module and have done an amazing docking since flying the first person to space 10 years ago.

"China has accomplished so much in such a short period, and I think China's program is very strong and has a bright future."

In October 2003, China's first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou V, was sent into space with astronaut Yang Liwei on board.

Last June, three Chinese astronauts piloted Shenzhou IX to link up with Tiangong-1, China's first space station module. Liu, the only female of the three, became the first female astronaut from China to travel to space.

Magnus said she had been looking forward to seeing her Chinese peer at the event and praised Liu as "a wonderful representative for China".

"We are all in one group and we are all kind of sisters, and it felt good to be together and share our experiences.

"It's very difficult to be a woman for anything, and I think she has done a wonderful job," Magnus said.

Magnus said she had heard China planned to go to the moon and put a rover on the surface. "I look forward to seeing that and other accomplishments of China in the coming stages."

Magnus, who arrived in China on Saturday, said she came to talk about aeronautics with Chinese experts and students.

During the exchange on Thursday, she and Liu shared their experiences in space with students from Beijing universities, middle and primary schools. They encouraged the students to keep trying if they had a passion for space.

Born in Illinois in 1964, Magnus has a PhD in material engineering and was an astronaut with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

She spent a total of 159 days in space in her career, making three separate trips. On March 28, 2009, she returned to Earth with the crew of the space shuttle Discovery after having spent 134 days in orbit.

Ye Lin contributed to this story.

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