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Shenzhou XVIII crew conducts first spacewalk

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2024-05-28 19:20
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This screen image captured at Beijing Aerospace Control Center on May 28, 2024 shows Shenzhou-18 astronaut Li Guangsu preparing for extravehicular activities. [Photo by Li Jie/Xinhua]

The Shenzhou XVIII crew conducted their first spacewalk outside the Tiangong space station on Tuesday, completing several assignments, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The agency said in a news release that mission commander Senior Colonel Ye Guangfu and crew member Lieutenant Colonel Li Guangsu returned to the Wentian science module at 6:58 pm after floating nearly eight and a half hours outside the colossal orbital station. The third crew member, Lieutenant Colonel Li Cong, stayed inside Tiangong to provide support, it said.

with the cooperation and assistance of ground controllers and the space station's robotic arm, the team completed all their assigned tasks, including installing space debris shield devices and checking the condition of extravehicular equipment, the agency said.

It was the 16th spacewalk carried out by Chinese astronauts and also marked the second spacewalk by Ye and the first for Li Guangsu.

The Shenzhou XVIII trio, the seventh group of inhabitants of the Chinese space station, were launched on April 25 by a Long March 2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China and arrived at the Tiangong station the next morning to take over from their peers in the Shenzhou XVII flight.

As one of the country's second-generation astronauts, Ye was part of the Shenzhou XIII mission, which took place from October 2021 to April 2022, and made his first spacewalk during the six-month flight.

The Shenzhou XVIII is the first spaceflight for Li Cong and Li Guangsu, both of whom are from China's third-generation astronauts.

They have been scheduled to work onboard the Tiangong until late October before handing over the orbital outpost to the Shenzhou XIX crew.

As of Tuesday, Ye's team had stayed 33 days in space and had fulfilled a host of tasks such as equipment maintenance, examinations and tests on spacewalk suits, emergency response exercises, and medical aid drills.

They had also engaged in an array of space science experiments and mounted the second batch of material exposure experimental apparatus, the agency said.

Next, they will carry out a large amount of scientific experiments and technological tests and will conduct multiple spacewalks and payload deployment operations, according to the agency.

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