A rendering of the Tiangong Space Station. Wikimedia Commons.

Chinese Astronauts Perform Spacewalk on the Tiangong Space Station

Chinese Astronauts Chen Dong and Liu Yang successfully performed a spacewalk on the Tiangong Space Station.


China’s national space agency said Friday that two astronauts completed a six-hour spacewalk on board its Tiangong space station.

The Shenzhou-14 mission’s first spacewalk ended successfully on Friday when Chinese astronauts Chen Dong and Liu Yang returned to their cabin module, the China Manned Space Agency reported.

A rover has landed on Mars, and probes have been sent to the Moon as a result of China’s heavily promoted space program. Their lunar Chang’e Program is a great success. Chang’e 4 is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. In January 2019, China made history by becoming the first country to land on the far side of the Moon.

Images in state media showed the couple opening the hatch and manipulating equipment with a robotic arm against the backdrop of the rotating earth.

Chen, a former military pilot, said in a video, “I’m out of the module. I’m feeling good.” Official news agency Xinhua reported that Cai Xuzhe coordinated from inside the cabin as the pair installed external parts to the module and tested its functionality.

Three astronauts were launched to complete the construction of Tiangong by China’s Shenzhou-14 spacecraft on June 5. By the end of this year, the space station, referred to as the “heavenly palace,” will be fully operational.

The last crew spent 183 days aboard Tiangong returning to earth after six months in space this April. Chen, Liu, and Cai are the second crew to spend six months aboard Tiangong. It is expected that Tiangong’s core module will be in orbit for at least a decade after entering orbit last year.

When completed, the station will look similar to the Soviet Mir station that orbited Earth for over two decades. This means that the Chinese space laboratory will be much smaller when compared to the international space station. In total, Tiangong will be about one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station once completed.

Tiangong is a modular space station of the third generation. Space stations of the first generation, such as Salyut, Almaz, and Skylab, were one-piece stations that were not built to be resupplied. Salyut 6 and 7, as well as Tiangong 1 and 2, belong to the second generation of resupply stations.

The International Space Station and Mir, both third-generation stations, are modular stations that are assembled on-orbit from pieces launched separately. In addition to improving reliability, reducing costs, shortening the development cycle, and meeting varied task requirements, modular design methods can also provide reduced development costs.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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