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The first spacewalk at Xintiangong Station in China

  • Chinese astronauts conducted their first two-person spacewalk at Xintiangong Station in their country.
  • The station is in Earth orbit, and all three astronauts will stay there for three months.
  • One astronaut was transported to the construction site with the help of a robotic arm, while the other moved by climbing outside the hatch.

On Sunday, two astronauts performed China’s first two-person spacewalk outside the Xintiangong station in China’s orbit around the earth.

Three Chinese astronauts took off in June and docked at the space station. They will stay there for three months. This is China’s longest manned mission to date.

The China Manned Space Administration said that two of them left the core module on Sunday morning.

The first was Liu Boming, who was transported to the construction site with the help of a robotic arm, and the other was Tang Hongbo, who climbed out of the hatch.

In a video of Liu leaving the cabin, he exclaimed: “Wow, it’s so beautiful here.”

According to official media, their tasks include raising the panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module and testing the robotic arm that will be used to transfer future modules around the station.

Television images show that astronauts put on equipment and undergo health checks during exercise to prepare for the spacewalk.

Later, the crew members were shown to open the hatch and leave the modules separately. They were wearing newly developed suits, which were said to weigh about 130 kg.

This is the first of two spacewalks planned for the mission, and both are expected to last six to seven hours.

This is also the first time a Chinese astronaut has stepped out of the space capsule since 2008. At that time, Commander Zhai Zhigang made China the third country to complete a spacewalk after the Soviet Union and the United States.

Read | “Completely successful”-China launched the rocket that carried the first astronaut to the new space station

Like the 2008 mission, the launch of China’s first manned mission in the past five years is a huge prestige for China, because Beijing will hold a large-scale propaganda campaign this month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party.

In order to prepare, the crew received more than 6,000 hours of training.

The China Space Administration plans to conduct a total of 11 launches by the end of next year, including another 3 manned missions, and will provide two laboratory modules to expand the space station, as well as supplies and crew.

Except for Liu and Tang, the commander of this mission is Nie Haisheng, an Air Force pilot who has participated in two space missions.

He supported the latest spacewalk in the cabin.

‘Unspeakable’

On Sunday, National Television broadcasted footage of astronauts’ daily life in the Tiangong, including setting up exercise bikes and exercising on treadmills.

One crew member was shown eating with chopsticks, while another crew member stood upside down and somersaulted after the meal.

The mission caused a lot of discussion on the Internet, and tags related to spacewalks were viewed 200 million times on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China.

One user wrote: “The achievements of each step have moved me beyond words.”

President Xi Jinping once said that the construction of China’s first space station has opened up a “new horizon” for mankind to explore the universe.

China’s ambition to build its own orbital outpost is partly due to the United States’ ban on its astronauts from entering the International Space Station, a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

The International Space Station will be decommissioned after 2024, although NASA said it may continue to operate after 2028.

The life expectancy of Tiangong is expected to be at least 10 years, and China has stated that it will be open to international cooperation on the site.


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