Chinese astronauts conduct spacewalk
6th July, 2021
Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo floated out of Tianhe, the space station's core module, for seven hours of extravehicular exercises. On Sunday, two Chinese astronauts performed the country's first spacewalk in 13 years, raising a camera and testing a 15-metre-long robotic arm outside the Tianhe space station's core module. They were outside the under-construction space station for seven hours before safely returning. In 2008, a Chinese astronaut aboard the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft completed a 20-minute spacewalk. China's space station is a huge step forward in the country's ambitious space programme, which has already seen Beijing land a rover on Mars and send probes to the moon. Liu, Tang, and Nie Haisheng, the three astronauts who stayed inside the Tianhe for Sunday's spacewalk, blasted off aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft on June 17 to become the station's first crew. They will spend three months in Tianhe, making it China's longest crewed mission to date. Liu is a veteran of the 2008 Shenzhou 7 mission, and three of the pilots are members of the People's Liberation Army Air Force. The CMSA stated, "The safe return of astronauts Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo to the Tianhe core module represents the total success of our country's space station development." The astronauts' tasks included raising a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module and testing the station's robotic arm, which will be used to transfer future modules around the station, according to the space agency. They also installed foot stops on the robotic arm and carried out other assembly work with its assistance, according to the space agency. The two astronauts finished putting the foot restraints and extravehicular working platform on the mechanical arm while wearing new-generation handmade EMU (extravehicular mobility unit) spacesuits Feitian, which means flying to space, according to the CMSA. According to the state-run China Daily newspaper, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center tracked and directed the whole operation. “Their operation made China, after the former Soviet Union and the United States, the third nation in the world capable of performing a spacewalk independently,” according to the China Daily article.