Spacewalks are a relatively rare occurrence, and they normally draw at least a moderate amount of media coverage. So when a team of Chinese astronauts performed a spacewalk outside of their newly launched space station for the first time, it was bound to attract some notice. The successful walk installed equipment, including cameras, outside of the new Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”) station.
Having reached the space station on June 17th, a crew of three astronauts have set about making their new home fully functional, as they will be staying there for three months. Two astronauts participated in the walk – Liu Bomin and Tang Hongbo, while a third, Nie Haisheng, remained inside the space station while his colleagues braved the vacuum of space.
The action was captured by a camera that was installed on the station, and was released by the state-owned Xinhua news agency. Videos show Liu attached to a 15 meter (70 ft) robotic arm that held him in place while he performed installation work with a drill and other hand tools.
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This activity was the first EVA for Liu and Tang, though Liu was present in 2008 when Zhai Zhigang made China’s first ever spacewalk. All three men on the mission are military pilots, as were NASA’s original astronauts.
Though this first one was a step in the right direction, many more EVAs will be necessary to fully complete the station. In fact, the astronauts already on board have even more EVAs planned before they leave. By the end of the year, two more modules will join the Tianhe (“Heavenly Harmony”) module already in place. Once everything is ready to go, the station can start contributing to the science of microgravity and prolonged space exposure. It will also provide plenty more firsts for the media to cover.
Learn More –
AP – Chinese astronauts make first spacewalk outside new station
Engadget – Astronauts complete China’s first-ever tandem spacewalk
Space.com – Chinese astronauts install tools on first spacewalk outside new space station
UT – The First Chinese Crew is Busy on their New Space Station
Lead Image –
Astronauts on the first ever spacewalk outside the Tiangong space station.
Credit – Xinhua News Agency