Chief Executive John Lee on Friday thanked the China Manned Space delegation for visiting Hong Kong and sharing their experiences with residents, as the group wrapped up their trip to the SAR before moving on to Macau.
At a farewell ceremony at Government House, Lee said the astronauts in the delegation are role models for young people.
"Besides your personal skills and team spirit, your appeal, charm and ability to attract fans are all exceptional," he said.
"Some students said they used to think that the dream of spaceflight was unrealistic. But after meeting real astronauts this time, they think this dream could come true."
Lin Xiqiang, Deputy Director General of the China Manned Space Agency who led the delegation, said he was able to feel Hongkongers' passion for the nation's space development during the four-day visit.
"Everyone has high hopes on the follow-up missions of the human spaceflight projects, especially the selection of the fourth batch of astronauts and whether there will be payload specialists from Hong Kong," Lin said, adding that he hopes the results of an ongoing recruitment exercise will be announced by the end of the year.
On Friday morning, members of the delegation waved to passers-by as they travelled along Nathan Road in an open-top bus.
A mainland tourist compared seeing the astronauts to winning the lottery.
"I'm very excited to see the nation's astronauts. It's even more exciting than winning Mark Six. I've taken a lot of photos and videos of Wang Yaping and Chen Dong. I'm really excited," he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Sun Dong said the SAR government will do more to nurture space talent, such as providing more education and scientific research opportunities.