Photo taken on June 24, 2013 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center showing astronauts Nie Haisheng (C), Zhang Xiaoguang (R) and Wang Yaping saluting in Tiangong-1 space lab module. Chinese President Xi Jinping came to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center Monday morning to talk with the astronauts aboard Tiangong-1. (Xinhua/Li Tao)
BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping said that the Chinese people will take bigger strides in space exploration, during his talk to astronauts aboard the orbiting space module Tiangong-1 on Monday.
"The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger. With the development of space programs, the Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further into the space," said Xi, making the video call at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
Xi expressed his sincere greetings to the three astronauts who embarked on their space journey on June 11 on broad of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, the country's fifth manned spacecraft.
"You have worked and lived in space for 13 days. We all care about you very much," Xi told crew members Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping.
Nie, commander of the crew, said they felt very well and were working as scheduled.
"We feel very proud to be able to contribute to realizing the Chinese nation's space dream," Nie said.
Wang, China's first teacher in space, said the crew members could rest seven to eight hours per day.
In the past 13 days of its journey, the Shenzhou-10 successfully finished automatic and manual docking procedures with the Tiangong-1.
Also, a lecture was for the first time given from the assembled orbiter to about 330 primary and middle school students on Earth on June 20, while more than 60 million students across the country watched the live broadcast of the lecture on TV.
Speaking of China's first space lecture, Xi said it would play an important role in fostering young people's interest in sciences and exploring the space.
During the 40-minute lecture, Wang introduced the motion in micro-gravity environments and the surface tension of liquid in space, with several demonstrations, and answered questions from the students.
China has sent ten astronauts and six spacecrafts into the space since its first astronaut Yang Liwei succeeded in his space trip in 2003.
The manned space mission has reflected the courage to defy hardship and explore, a spirit that would inspire the entire nation, President Xi said.
The dialogue drew applause from the audience at the aerospace control center. Xi also shook hands with field staff at the center and expressed his greetings.
On June 11, hours before the launch of the Shenzhou-10, Xi also attended a see-off ceremony at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, extending good wishes to the three astronauts.
"The mission's crew members carry a space dream of the Chinese nation, and represent the lofty aspirations of the Chinese people to explore space," said Xi.
The mission of Shenzhou-10 aims to further test technologies designed for docking and supporting astronauts' stay in space, as well as to use new technologies related to the construction of a space station.
China aims to operate a permanent space station around 2020.
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