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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Astronaut becomes the first Chinese woman to walk on the space

Wang Yaping, a Chinese astronaut who is now on a six-month mission to the country’s space station, has become the first Chinese woman to walk in space, according to official announcements.

Following a more than six-hour separation from the main module of the Tiangong space station, Wang and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang went to work installing equipment and conducting tests alongside the station’s robotic arm as part of its ongoing construction, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMS).

In addition to Ye Guangfu, the third member of the crew gave support from inside the station, according to CMS’s website.

Tiangong, which translates as “heavenly palace,” is a critical component in China’s military-led push to become a major space power, after the country’s successful landing of a rover on Mars and the sending of probes to the Moon.

The station’s core module was launched into orbit earlier this year, and it is anticipated to be fully operational by 2022.

Previously, Wang, 41, and Zhai, 55, had been to China’s now-decommissioned experimental space stations, and Zhai was responsible for China’s first spacewalk, which took place 13 years ago.

While they were connected to the exterior of the station, they both waved to the camera.

“This is the first extravehicular activity carried out by the Shenzhou-13 crew, and it is also the first time in the history of China’s space programme that a female astronaut has taken part,” the Chinese space agency said in a statement released early on Monday.

“The whole procedure was seamless and successful,” the organisation said.

Tiangong is intended to be in operation for at least 10 years, and the three astronauts are the second group to spend time on the space station, with Wang becoming the first woman to do this.

There will be at least one more spacewalk scheduled after this one, and their task will include putting up equipment and testing technologies for future building.

The crew is planned to be at the station for a total of six months.

The Tianhe module of the station will be linked to two other parts, which will be called Mengtian and Wentian, before the end of the year. The finished station will weigh around 66 tonnes, which is far less than the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and now weighs over 450 tonnes when fully assembled.

In addition to installing equipment in preparation for the station’s expansion, three spacewalks are scheduled, during which the crew will evaluate living conditions in the Tianhe module and undertake studies in space medicine and other disciplines.

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