Astronauts Jing Haipeng (R) and Chen Dong (L) show space postal bags to the public aboard the space lab Tiangong-2.[China Post]
"Operations at China Post's Space Post Office start today," said China's first astronaut in outer space Yang Liwei as he issued directions on the official opening of a space-to-earth postal route.
Located in a virtual office in Space City with the zip code 901001 aboard the manned spacecraft, the China Post Space Office opened for business on November 3, 2011. It will not only deliver mail from the public to astronauts, but will also sell postal souvenirs that depict China's major astronautic events.
The post office is directed and administrated by the China Post Group and operated by Beijing Post Corp.
The process of connecting to outer space was broadcast to the public for the first time. Billions of viewers saw the scene on the state broadcaster China Central Television's News Broadcast in the evening.
Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong in the space lab Tiangong-2 opened postal bags and showed the name plate of the space office with the No.1 postal mark along with letters and other postal souvenirs on China's major astronautic events. They stamped post marks on space letters and commemorative folders, marking another reach into space by China Post services. It was also the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Space Post Office.
To publicize the great achievements that China's aerospace industry has made, the Children's and Youth Science Center at the China Association for Science and Technology and the Space Post Office are jointly offering a space science education activity themed "Letters Carrying Dreams" from August to December, 2016.
Middle and primary school students wrote to Shenzhou-11 astronauts aboard the manned spacecraft in the form of a letter home on special stationary distributed by the Space Post Office that express their personal greetings and dreams. All of the home letters will be carried to the space lab Tiangong-2 by Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft.
Astronauts selected some letters to read, which made the youth feel that the space was actually not far away and they can realize their "aerospace dreams". More than 90,000 paper letters and 400,000 electronic versions had been collected nationwide and carried to space by November 3.
Jing and Chen selected and read seven of the space letters. "I luckily participated this summer in China's first satellite project developed by middle school students. We will try to be worthy of our country's cultivation and make it more powerful," one letter read.
"We are students of a Hope School in Zhongning County, a mountainous area. Please take our dreams to space," said the contents of another letter.
"Chen Dong and I are not lonely though we are in a remote place. We do believe our motherland and the people are together with us," said Jing.
"As an important part of traditional culture in the Chinese nation, letters are one of the channels for people to convey emotions and entrust dreams. According to the activity, we carry the personal and national dreams into space and the people's heart," said Yang.
Participants will receive precious physical space letters sent from the Space Post Office after the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft returns.