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The two payload specialists, one each from Hong Kong and Macao, marked the first time astronauts were selected from the two “special administrative regions” (SARs). Hong Kong media reported the expert from the city to be Lai Ka-ying, a chief inspector with the Hong Kong Police who worked in the force’s secret technical services division. John Lee Ka-chiu, who is the Current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, said Ka-ying’s selection “writes [a] glorious history for [Hong Kong] and makes the whole of Hong Kong proud,” according to the Hong Kong Free Press

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The details of the second payload expert, who’s from Macao, were not made public. “It is an honor for [Macao] and sends a strong message of encouragement to Macao young people,” a statement by the Macao government read. 

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Details of the remaining eight crew members were not revealed, as is the protocol of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). For example, the agency tends to announce the identities of astronauts flying to Tiangong only a day before launch.

The news comes shortly after the launch of the three-person Shenzhou 18 mission to Tiangong, including China’s first civilian astronaut. The three astronauts — Ye Guangfu, Li Cong and Li Guangsu — recently completed strength tests using the station’s bicycle and treadmill, data from which will guide the exercise plan to minimize muscle loss in the microgravity environment, CSMA said on Monday (June 17).

The agency added that the newly selected astronauts are among those who may set foot on the moon by 2030. In February, Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of CMSA, told local media that the technical proposal for the launch and lunar landing site, and the development of the Long March 10 rocket, Mengzhou crew spacecraft, Lanyue lander and spacesuits were ready.



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