Namibian students visit a space exhibition after an interactive event with Chinese taikonauts in Namibia's coastal town of Swakopmund on Aug. 19, 2019. Liu Yang, China's first female taikonaut in space, and her colleague Chen Dong arrived in Namibia's port town of Walvis Bay on Monday, starting their five-day visit to the southern African nation at the invitation of President Hage Geingob. (Xinhua Photo/Wu Changwei)
WALVIS BAY, Namibia, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut in space, and her colleague Chen Dong arrived in Namibia's port town of Walvis Bay on Monday, starting their five-day visit to the southern African nation at the invitation of President Hage Geingob.
Chinese Ambassador to Namibia Zhang Yiming said the visit aims to enhance communication and cooperation on astronautics between China and Namibia.
Zhang revealed that during his state visit to China last year, Geingob had visited the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, interacted with three Chinese astronauts, and invited Chinese astronauts to visit Namibia.
"During the visit, the delegation will pay a courtesy call to President Geingob, meet local middle school learners at Space TT&C Station, and communicate with students face-to-face at the Namibia University of Science and Technology," according to Zhang.
"When I was staying in Tiangong-1, I flew over Namibia many times. I know there is a Space TT&C Station based here, and I come here with gratitude," said Liu.
Tiangong-1 was China's experimental space lab, and was known as a pioneer of China's future space station. Launched in 2011, the lab ended its data service in March 2016. It has made important contributions to China's manned space cause, paving the way for China to become the third country in the world to operate a permanent space station around 2022.
Zhang said the Chinese delegation's visit to Namibia has received warm welcome from Namibian friends, adding that their trip to Namibia will become a landmark event of friendly exchange between the two countries.
"In 2010, the first Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei visited Namibia. This will be the second visit of Chinese astronauts to Namibia, highlighting the special relationship of our two countries and the great importance China attaches to our cooperation," the ambassador said.
"China and Namibia keep good cooperation in the fields of aerospace on the basis of equality and mutual benefits. China's aerospace development cannot be separated from the support of Namibia. The visit will further strengthen the friendship between the two countries and two peoples," he added.
On June 16, 2012, Liu Yang, as one of the crew of Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, became the first female Chinese astronaut going into space. The main tasks of the Shenzhou-9 mission included the manual docking procedure conducted between the Shenzhou-9 and the orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1.
On October 17, 2016, Chen Dong was lifted off with the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 for a space mission to the Tiangong-2 space lab. The crew returned to Earth successfully on November 18, 2016, having completed China's longest-ever manned space mission.