On Thursday (September 1), a pair of Chinese astronauts went on a six-hour spacewalk to work outside the Wentian Space Station’s new module.
Chen Dong, commander of the Shenzhou 14 mission, and Liu Yang, who became China’s first female astronaut in space in 2012, opened the hatch of the new Wentian module at 6:26 am EST (1026 GMT) , and both left Tiangong space. station by 7:09 AM EST (1109 GMT).
“Wow, it’s amazing how close Earth is. It’s mind-boggling,” Chen said, waving his hand in space. “Hi all. I left the module. I feel myself good”.
On the subject: Chinese astronauts of Shenzhou-12 sent stunning pictures of the Earth (photo)
(Image credit: CMSA)
Chen and Liu completed a number of tasks, including installing the Wentian Lab Module Extended Pump Assembly, which plays a role in the station’s thermal control system, lifting a panoramic camera attached to the outside of the Wentian Module to provide a large field of view, and testing capabilities. and emergency return procedures to the space station.
From inside the Tiangong space station, the couple was assisted by crew member Cai Xiuzhe. A 17-foot (5 meter) Wentian remote-controlled robotic arm also assisted operations.
The astronauts completed their activity by 12:33 pm EDT (1633 GMT), according to the China Manned Space Flight Agency.
“I want to thank my teammates for their help, all the technical staff for their support, and all the people in China for their care and concern,” Liu said after completing the scheduled tasks. “This step forward is the result of the combined efforts of people both on earth and in space.”
(Image credit: CMSA)
China launched the Wentian experimental module in July. It joined the Tianhe core module and the Shenzhou 14 mission crew in orbit and is the second of three modules that will make up the completed space station.
Thursday’s extravehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk, is the first to use the new, larger airlock on the Wentian module. Earlier Tiangong spacewalks conducted by the astronauts of the Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhou 13 missions used the docking port at Tianhe, now attached to Wentian, as an airlock.
Other Wentian features include a range of science racks for use by astronauts to conduct a range of microgravity experiments and 22 external payload adapters for Chinese and international experiments.
The Shenzhou 14 crew has been in space since June 5. They are expected to soon be using Wentian to host a live science lecture for students on Earth.
China is currently preparing to launch Mengtian, the third and final module for Tiangong. The module, which is 58.7 feet (17.9 m) long and weighs about 48,500 pounds (22 metric tons), arrived at Wenchang in early August and is due to launch in October.
The mission will be the third launch of a Chinese module in less than 18 months and will complete the Tiangong T-shaped space station. The country has also launched many cargo missions to support the growing lab.
The completed Tiangong Space Station, with docked cargo and the Shenzhou manned spacecraft, will be about 20% more massive than the International Space Station, which here on Earth will weigh about 460 tons (420 metric tons).
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