Jade Rabbit lunar rover

Hong Kong's Chang'e-3 hero tells young people to reach for the stars

With one of his gadgets now hard at work on the moon, professor gives his advice to the young

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2013, 5:46am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

"Be ambitious. Follow your dreams." This is the advice given to young people by Polytechnic University professor Yung Kai-leung, who has become a bit of a star himself after China's latest moon exploration mission adopted a gadget he developed.

"There is no shortage of scientific talent in Hong Kong, but our society seems to have focused too much on finance and investment," said Professor Yung.

"I hope our participation in our country's space mission can arouse young people's interest in science."

The professor's camera pointing system on board China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe is now hard at work allowing precise pictures to be taken on the moon.

It is the first time an instrument developed and produced in Hong Kong has been used in China's lunar programme since its launch in 2007.

Professor Yung said: "I feel very proud to be able to take a part in the mission."

It is only the third so-called soft landing on the moon - as opposed to a high-velocity landing in which the spacecraft is destroyed.

Having graduated from the Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School in 1967, Yung finished a course on mechanical engineering at Hong Kong Technical College.

He initially worked as a sales officer at a trading company, but his dream was to be an engineer. So he left for Britain to further his studies in the mid-1970s, returning to join the Polytechnic in the mid-1980s. He is now the associate head of the university's department of industrial and systems engineering.

Professor Yung is no stranger to the elite international circle of space exploration specialists. He developed the Mars rock corer for the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission in 2003; the Holinser forceps for the Mir Space Station in the mid-1990s; and the soil preparation system for a Sino-Russian mission two years ago.

The China National Space Administration's lunar exploration programme appointed him an expert member of its lunar exploration project.

While he prefers to keep the details of the Chinese space programmes hush-hush, he did reveal what was, until now, perhaps one of the best kept secrets in the Chang'e-3 mission.

"My spoken Mandarin is very bad," said Yung. "But, well, the Chinese experts seem to understand what I say. And together we have made the mission a success," he added.