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Chinese astronauts make first space walk at new station

Sunday, 4 July 2021 (21:57 IST)
Two astronauts made the first space walk outside China's new orbital station on Sunday morning, state media reported.

Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo's space walk comes just weeks after they and crew member, Nie Haisheng, became the first astronauts to arrive at the station, on a three-month mission.

Carrying out the spacewalk

Liu and Tang were shown by state TV climbing out of the airlock.

They were tasked with elevating a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module of the Tiangong space station. They also had to verify the 15-meter (50-foot) robotic arm's transfer capability, state media said.

Television footage showed the astronauts preparing for the spacewalk by donning gear and conducting health checks while exercising in the cabin.

The space walk was expected to last around six hours.

It is the first of two planned for the mission.

As well as carrying out space walks, the crew members are carrying out experiments, conducting maintenance and preparing the station for two more modules scheduled to launch next year.

China's advances in space

The launch of China's first crewed mission in nearly five years is a matter of huge prestige for the country.

The walk also comes as Beijing marks the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party this month with a massive propaganda campaign.

China has now sent a total of 14 astronauts to space, with more planned.

The Chinese space agency is planning a total of 11 launches through to the end of next year. This includes three more crewed missions that will deliver two lab modules to expand the 70-metric ton station, along with supplies and crew members.

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