Shenzhou XVI crew completes 1st spacewalk

2023-07-21 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The Shenzhou XVI crew members completed their first spacewalk on Thursday. (Photo provided to China Daily)

The Shenzhou XVI crew members completed their first spacewalk on Thursday, installing and adjusting camera devices outside the Tiangong space station, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Mission commander Major General Jing Haipeng and spaceflight engineer Colonel Zhu Yangzhu conducted their eight-hour spacewalk and returned to the Wentian science module at 9:40 pm, the agency said in a news release.

This was the 13th spacewalk carried out by Chinese astronauts.

Professor Gui Haichao, the third member of the crew and the mission's science payload specialist, stayed inside the space station to provide support, the news release said.

During their spacewalk, Jing and Zhu fulfilled a host of tasks, such as mounting a support frame for a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module and unlocking and moving two panoramic cameras outside the Mengtian science module, according to the agency.

Jing, who is on his fourth spaceflight, participated in a spacewalk for the first time. During the Shen-zhou VII mission in September 2008, which was his first spaceflight, Jing stayed inside the spaceship to assist his fellow crew members, Zhai Zhigang and Liu Boming, who completed China's first spacewalk.

On Thursday afternoon, Yang Yuguang, a senior space industry observer and vice-chair of the International Astronautical Federation's Space Transportation Committee, had said that despite this being Jing's first spacewalk, he should have no problem in completing the operation because he is an experienced astronaut and has been mission commander three times.

Jing has know-how about sophisticated tasks and has abundant experience in handling challenging or risky situations, which will help him when he carries out the spacewalk, Yang said.

Zhu was a teacher at the Space Engineering University before he became an astronaut, so he has expertise in spacecraft engineering and operations, Yang added.

The Shenzhou XVI crew arrived at the Tiangong space station on May 30 to take over the massive orbital outpost from their Shenzhou XV peers, who had stayed there for six months.

Their journey is the debut flight of China's third generation of astronauts. Zhu and Gui belong to the third generation. It is also the first time a Chinese civilian has traveled to space, as Gui is a nonmilitary astronaut.

As of Thursday, Jing and his team have worked for 52 days and are in good condition. They will live inside the space station for around five months and are scheduled to return to Earth in November.

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