Chinese astronauts perform first spacewalk outside new space station

Artsiom P / Shutterstock

Chinese astronaut tandem performed the country’s first spacewalk outside China’s new orbital space station.

Astronauts Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo were shown by the state television climbing outside a spacecraft airlock for the first time on June 4, 2021. Both astronauts were working for seven hours outside China’s new space station. Their duties involved setting up panoramic cameras and other equipment using a 15 meter long robotic arm. 

The new Chinese Space Station (CSS), called Tiangong, is a major project under the country’s ambitious space program. On June 17, 2021,  China’s historic Shenzhou-12 manned mission took off carrying three astronauts to its emerging Tiangong space station, which is set to be fully operational by 2022. 

Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo will work and stay on Tianhe, the living quarters of the future Chinese Space Station, for three months. It is expected that the Chinese Space Station will be operational for approximately 10 years. However, experts are saying that it might “last more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance and repairs”.

China began laying the foundation for the CSS launch a decade ago. In September 2011, the country launched a prototype space station called Tiangong-1 to continue improving its human spaceflight skills and test the technologies needed to assemble a large space station in low Earth orbit.


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