China’s astronauts complete 1st spacewalk (video)

BEIJING, 10 Feb 2023:

Two crew members of China’s space station completed their first extra-vehicular mission early today, the country’s space agency announced.

Crew members Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu installed expansion pumps outside the Mengtian laboratory module with the support of their colleague Deng Qingming, who remained inside, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said.

State-run broadcaster CGTN reported the seven-hour spacewalk was the first to be carried out at the Tiangong space station since its construction was completed in November.

The CMSA described the mission as “a success” and said it concluded at 12:16am.

The agency added that the crew will perform more extra-vehicular tasks during their stay in space, which is expected to last until approximately May.

The Mengtian lab was the last section to be added to the T-structure of the Tiangong space station, which already consisted of two modules – Tianhe and Wentian.

Tiangong, whose name means Heavenly Palace in Mandarin, will weigh about 70 tonnes and is expected to operate for about 15 years orbiting about 400km above the Earth’s surface.

By 2024, it could become the world’s only space station if the International Space Station – a US-led initiative to which China is barred, due to military ties to its space programme, is withdrawn that year as planned.

In recent years, the Chinese space programme has achieved successes such as landing the Chang’e 4 probe on the hidden side of the Moon – the first time it has been achieved – and reaching Mars for the first time, becoming the third country to do so after the US and the former Soviet Union.