An astronomer on Wednesday said people who study in Hong Kong may have advantages in the race to join the nation's space programme, despite facing fierce competition from would-be astronauts on the mainland.
Sun Kwok, who heads the University of Hong Kong's Laboratory for Space Research, made the comments on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme a day ahead of the opening of a new round of recruitment for taikonauts, which will be open to SAR residents for the first time.
"I think there are some unique aspects of candidates from Hong Kong," he told RTHK's Ben Tse. "For example, in Hong Kong U we have very extensive international collaboration and connections, so Hong Kong students may have a bit of international perspective.
"They're also more trained in having an open mind in problem solving and not being restricted by standard procedures and so on, so there are some differences as well."
Sun, whose laboratory was set up to make the most of the nation's space programme, said the astronaut recruitment sent a positive message to young people in the SAR that there were career opportunities for them.
He said the SAR had many "very smart" students who would be capable of becoming astronauts, but stressed that they'll also need to meet rigorous physical and psychological requirements.
The China Manned Space Agency announced on Sunday that it was beginning recruitment for up to 14 astronauts, including seven or eight pilots, a few engineers and about two payload specialists.
Candidates from Hong Kong and Macau will be able to apply to become payload specialists. Those selected will mainly be responsible for scientific experiments, research and tests during space missions.
Local hopefuls have until October 27 to submit their candidacies.
The Hong Kong administration said it would conduct preliminary selection based on applications filed through it departments, the 11 universities here, as well as government research facilities, the Productivity Council, research firms at Cyberport and the Science Park, and the Hospital Authority.
Mainland authorities will then draw up a shortlist of candidates.