Frank Dewinne, guest of honour at BTC conference in Vietnam

As part of an economic mission led by His Royal Highness Prince Philippe and to promote the bilateral scientific and technological cooperation between Belgium and Vietnam, Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne took the opportunity to talk with young people in Vietnam.

Besides the conference with students at Hanoi National University, Mr Frank De Winne, with the support of the Belgian development agency in Hanoi, also spent the mornings of 13 and 14 March 2012 with pupils from Doan Thi Diem, Ngo Gia Tu and Trung Vuong Secondary Schools in Hanoi.

Mr De Winne’s first space flight was a 12-day trip as a flight engineer to the International Space Station in 2002. The second flight in 2009 made him the first astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) to command a space mission. During these missions, with his colleagues from different nations, Frank De Winne carried out a number of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations and education activities.

Mr De Winne was accompanied by his colleague, Vietnamese astronaut Lieutenant-General Pham Tuan, who in 1980 aboard Soyuz 37 was the first Asian (outside Russia) in space.

It was a great opportunity for Vietnamese pupils to learn about their fantastic experience and their scientific experiments in space. They asked the two astronauts many questions about their efforts to become successful astronauts, weightlessness in space, research and space sciences and issues related to the human future. Mr De Winne said that our planet looked very small and fragile as seen from above and that it is our duty to protect it.

Sharing his dream about space conquest, Mr De Winne encouraged Vietnamese students to go after their own dreams and take interest in science research and development, while Mr Pham Tuan emphasised knowledge improvement and health practice.

As expected, these talks helped Vietnamese children to complete their knowledge on the universe, to love the planet on which they live and to understand why it is important to protect it. Nguyễn Hải Linh- a 8th-grade student of Trung Vuong Secondary School said “the exchange on space science and experimental research has given me a new and interesting experience. The story of Mr De Winne inspires me to study and further discover the universe and the world”.