Chinese astronauts successfully performed the country’s first tandem spacewalk on 4 July 2021.
- They worked for seven hours on the outside of the new Tiangong station in orbit around the Earth.
- Tiangong’s construction is a major step in China’s ambitious space programme, which has seen the nation land a rover on Mars and sends probes to the Moon.
- Three astronauts – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo were blasted off in June 2021 to become the station’s first crew where they will remain for three months which is China’s longest crewed mission to date.
- Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo exited the station for some seven hours of work in the first spacewalk at Tiangong.
- The safe return of these two astronauts to the Tianhe core module marks the complete success of the first spacewalk in a space station constructed by China.
What did task did they perform during their spacewalk?
- Their tasks involved elevating a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module, as well as testing the station’s robotic arm which will be used to transfer future modules around the station, state media said.
- They installed foot stops on the robotic arm and, with its support, carried out other assembly work.
- They were supported from inside the station by the mission commander Nie Haisheng, a decorated air force pilot who is on his third space mission.
Matter of Pride for China:
- This is China’s first crewed mission in nearly five years, and a matter of huge prestige as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party.
- It is also the first time since 2008 that Chinese astronauts went outside their spacecraft.
- Back then, Zhai Zhigang made China the third country to complete a spacewalk after the Soviet Union and the United States.
About Tiangong Space Station:
- The Tiangong Space Station is placed in low Earth orbit at the distance between 340 and 450 km above the surface.
- This space station, once completed, will be roughly one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station and about the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station.
- It is expected to have a mass between 80 and 100 t (180,000 and 220,000 lb).
- Operations will be controlled from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center in China.
- The core module, the Tianhe (“Harmony of the Heavens”), was launched on 29 April 2021.