Science & Technology

Chinese astronauts complete 1st mission outside space station

Beijing, Sep 2 (EFE).- Two crew members of the space station that China is building completed their first extravehicular mission on Friday, Chinese state media reported.

This is the first time that the Chinese astronauts have used the airlock cabin of the Wentian lab module and, with the help of its mechanical arm, completed tasks outside the station, Xinhua news agency reported.

In coordination with the third crew member, Cai Xuzhe, who remained inside, astronauts Chen Dong and Liu Yang installed an extended pump set of the lab module, lifting the module’s panoramic camera, and verified the capability for independent transfer and emergency return to the spacecraft.

The spacewalk lasted about six hours, during which the crew also tested their cooperation with the module’s mechanical arm and the performance of Wentian’s airlock cabin and support equipment for extravehicular activities.

The China Manned Space Agency called the mission, which was completed at 12:33 am, a “success.”

The three astronauts arrived at the Tiangong space station aboard the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft on June 5.

They are expected to spend six months at the station.

The previous crew, who arrived aboard the Shenzhou-13, completed several tasks, including two spacewalks, over 20 scientific experiments and data collection.

The Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 astronauts are expected to finally finish construction work on Tiangong, which should be completed by the end of 2022, according to official forecasts.

The Tiangong space station, whose name means “heavenly palace” in Mandarin, will weigh about 70 tons and is expected to operate for about 15 years orbiting about 400 kilometers (249 miles) from the Earth’s surface.

In 2024, Tiangong is likely to become the world’s only space station if the International Space Station, a United States-led initiative, is withdrawn that year as planned.

In recent years, the Chinese space program has managed to land the Chang’e-4 probe on the far side of the Moon – the first time it has been achieved – and, in mid-May of 2021, it reached Mars for the first time, becoming the third country to dock there after the US and the former Soviet Union. EFE


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