Astronauts complete first spacewalk at China's new Tiangong station

First crew to the nation's space station is composed of three Chinese astronauts, Tang Hongbo (L), Nie Haiisheng (C), and Liu Boming. Chinese astronauts completed the first tandem spacewalk in China on Sunday. They spent seven hours working outside the Tiangong station orbiting Earth. Tiangong's construction marks a significant step in China’s ambitious space programme. It has already seen China land a rover to Mars and send probes up the Moon. Three astronauts set off last month to become China's first crew. They will remain there for three months on China's longest-ever crewed mission. Two of them left the station on Sunday morning for seven hours of work in Tiangong's first spacewalk, according to the China Manned Space Agency. The space agency stated that astronauts Tang Hongbo and Liu Boming safely returned to Tianhe's core module, marking the success of the country's first spacewalk. State media reported that their tasks included raising a panoramic camera from outside Tianhe's core module and testing the robotic arm, which will be used for future modules to be transferred around the station. The astronauts placed foot stops on the robotic arms and with their support, performed other assembly work to add the space agency. Liu exclaimed in a video clip that he was leaving the cabin: "Wow! It's so beautiful out there!" Tang Hongbo (R) and Liu Boming(R) completed the first spacewalk aboard China's Tiangong space station. Television footage showed astronauts getting ready for spacewalk by putting on gear and exercising. Later, Liu and Tang were seen opening the hatch and exiting from the module individually wearing new suits that weighed 130 kilograms. The mission commander Nie Haisheng supported them from within the station, a decorated pilot of the air force who is currently on his third space mission. This was the first of two planned spacewalks for the mission. Both are expected to last between six and seven hours. This was also the first spacewalk by Chinese astronauts since 2008. Zhai Zhigang, then China's third spacewalker after the Soviet Union or the United States, made it so. This is China's first crewed expedition in almost five years. It also comes as a matter of great prestige, as China marks the 100th anniversary this month of the ruling Communist Party with a huge propaganda campaign. The crew received more than 6,000 hours training to prepare. Through the end of next years, China's space agency plans to launch 11 missions. This includes three crewed missions. Two lab modules will be delivered to expand the station and supplies as well as astronauts. Illustration of the components of China's current space station. "Beyond words" State television broadcast footage from Sunday's astronauts' lives on Tiangong. It included setting up an exercise bike, and running on a treadmill. One crew member was shown eating using chopsticks while another performed a handstand after each meal. The spacewalk attracted much attention online. A hashtag about it garnered 200 million views on China’s Weibo, a platform that is similar to Twitter. One user wrote, "I am moved by every step of success. President Xi Jinping stated that the construction of China’s first space station opens "new horizons" for humanity's quest to explore the cosmos. China's desire to establish an orbiting outpost of their own was fueled in part by the US ban on its astronauts from the International Space Station. This collaboration is between the United States and Russia, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Canada. NASA says the ISS will be retired after 2024. However, NASA claims it may still be functional beyond 2028. Tiangong is expected have a life expectancy of at least 10 year, and China said that it was open to international cooperation on the station. China sends 3 astronauts to the space station with its male astronauts in June 2021 AFP

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