Astronauts struck floating martial arts poses, twirled gyroscopes and manipulated wobbling globes of water during a lecture Thursday from China’s orbiting space station that’s part of efforts to popularize the space program among young people.
Wang Yaping demonstrated principles of weightlessness and took questions live from among the 330 grade school kids gathered at a Beijing auditorium during the 51-minute class from aboard the Tiangong 1 space station. Her fellow crew members Nie Haisheng and Zhang Xiaoguang answered questions about living, working and staying fit in space.
“I want to know how you know which way is up,” said one student.
During one playful moment, Nie adopted the mythical cross-legged lotus position familiar to all fans of Chinese martial arts films.
“In space, we’re all kung fu masters,” Wang remarked.
In a later demonstration resembling a magic show, Wang injected droplets into an increasingly larger suspended ball of water, drawing exclamations of “wow” and polite applause from the students, another 60 million of whom were watching the live TV broadcast in their classrooms. The astronauts also spun gyroscopes and swung a ball on its tether to show how weightlessness affects objects in motion.
The lesson was “aimed at making space more popular,” Zhou Jianping, designer-in-chief of China’s manned space program, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. “The spirit of science among youth is an important drive for the progress of mankind,” Zhou said.
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