Why Europe’s astronauts are learning Chinese?

According to the reports from China on 17th of June, a Long March 2F yao-12 carrier rocket carrying the Shenzhou XII manned spacecraft blasts off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province. Later, the Shenzhou xii manned spacecraft separated from the rocket and entered the preset orbit. Three Chinese astronauts, Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, also entered the core module of the Tiangong space station. The launch was a complete success. The three astronauts will stay in space for three months to set a new "Chinese altitude" in space.


A video previously aired by CCTV news showed details of the interior of the tiangong space station's core module. In the video, we can clearly see the working state of the three astronauts doing scientific and technical experiments in the "small room".

Interestingly, many people have noticed that all interfaces of the Tiangong space station's core module console are in Chinese language.

The reason of that is because Tiangong space station is built fully and independently by China, therefore the language for all the operation systems is in Chinese.

The Space Stations which are still running will be "retired" after 2024. Thereafter, the Chinese space station is likely to become the only long-term manned spacecraft in low Earth orbit and the only base for space exploration. Astronauts will need it to cooperate in Space. Obviously, this means that learning Chinese has become an urgent matter for astronauts from other countries to work smoothly in China's space station.


A number of Astronauts, including those from France, Germany and Italy, are actively learning Chinese, according to esa. The 50-year-old German astronaut Matthias Joseph said in an interview that he would like to go on China's space station and work with Chinese astronauts. Joseph also admitted that he started learning Chinese in 2012 and was even given a Chinese name by his Chinese teacher, Tian Ma.

When I first watched the news from TV, it reminded me the movie clip from Gravity. When Doctor Ryan Stone's whole crew died in the space, she operated the Russian ship to escape with bare life. She flew towards China "Tiangong" Space Station then finally found a way to enter the Station.

Her plan was to activate the Chinese ship and fly back to the Earth, however, she was desperated when saw Chinese instructions all over the dashbord. Fortunately, she activate the ship and got back to home.

In fact, European astronauts have been training and working with Chinese astronauts since 2012. “We trained together, stayed in the same building as the Chinese astronauts, shared the same food and it was quite an intense experience,” says Maurer. “It felt like being part of a family – it was completely different to being in Houston, where I rent an apartment and see my colleagues only during a two or three-hour training session.” said by Matthias Maurer. Click the link to read the article "The US and Russia are not the only major space nations now. BBC Future meets one of the European astronauts training with an emerging new power – China."


With more and more schools joining in the Mandarin Excellent programme which is ran by British Council, increasing number of UK parents started to consider whether they should let their children to learn Chinese as the second language. The reason why there are more parents choose Mandarin over other second languages not only because Mandarin improves kid's abilities of cognition and problem solving but also it can play an important role on their chidren's careers. In recent years, many foreign direct investments have been injected in China due to its rise in economics and technology. The international trading between China and foreign countries has also been boosted since the global pandemic started.

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