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Spacewalk completes repairs, marks milestone for young astronaut

By Zhao Lei | | Updated: 2023-12-21 22:03
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China's Shenzhou XVII astronauts successfully completed their first spacewalk on Thursday, conducting repairs and setting a record for the nation's youngest astronaut to venture outside the Tiangong space station.

Mission commander Tang Hongbo and crewmate Tang Shengjie spent seven and a half hours outside the station, fulfilling tasks including experimental repairs on the Tianhe core module's solar wings. The duo returned safely to the Wentian science module at 9:35 pm Beijing time, with crewmate Jiang Xinlin providing support from inside the station.

This marks the 14th spacewalk for Chinese astronauts and the second for Tang Hongbo, already the first Chinese to return to Tiangong. It also places the 34-year-old Tang Shengjie as the youngest Chinese astronaut to conduct a spacewalk, highlighting the country's growing capabilities in the field.

The China Manned Space Agency said more exciting tasks await the Shenzhou XVII trio in the coming months, including further spacewalks during their orbital stay. They are the sixth inhabitants of Tiangong, having arrived in October to take over from the Shenzhou XVI crew.

Since their arrival, the astronauts have been focused on equipment maintenance, spacesuit testing, and preparing for their spacewalk. They have also trained on robotic arm manipulation, emergency evacuation, and medical response, alongside conducting scientific experiments.

Tiangong, currently orbiting about 400 kilometers above Earth, consists of the Tianhe core module, the Wentian and Mengtian science labs, and is connected to two visiting spacecraft: the Shenzhou XVII crew ship and the Tianzhou 6 cargo ship.

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