Successful spacewalk as Shenzhou-12 crew come to life aboard Chinese space station – .

Successful spacewalk as Shenzhou-12 crew come to life aboard Chinese space station – .

“Wow, it’s so beautiful here! Chinese astronaut Liu Boming gasped as he escaped from the Tianhe central module of the Chinese space station to start a spacewalk at 8:11 am on Sunday.

Liu was leading the mission’s first extravehicular activity to install equipment such as footrests and a workbench on a robotic arm. He is one of three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, which launched on June 17 to visit the Tiangong space station. They will stay in orbit for three months to perform repairs and other tasks.

About three hours later, his fellow astronaut Tang Hongbo withdrew from Tianhe to help Liu complete the installation of the equipment. They also worked together to lift a panoramic camera outside the main module before completing their spacewalk at 2:57 p.m.

Tang Hongbo eats an apple in the main module of Tianhe. Photo: VCG

The successful spacewalk was the second in Chinese history after Zhai Zhigang performed an almost 20-minute spacewalk in 2008 during the Shenzhou-7 mission. Tianhe’s core module was launched into space in april, marking the start of the deployment of the Tiangong space station which is expected to be completed within two years.

According to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), the latest spacewalk lays the foundation for a smooth implementation of future extravehicular activities on the space station. The country plans to carry out 11 missions to help with the construction of Tiangong, including four manned launches, Caixin has already reported.

On June 17, China succeeded sent the three astronauts in space to board the central module of Tianhe. Yang Liwei, director of CMSEO and the first Chinese astronaut to be sent into space, told public broadcaster CCTV that he was “so jealous of them” because their new home is so much more spacious than the Shenzhou-5 of 2.8. meters wide. it piled up in 2003.

Tianhe provides astronauts with a working and living space of around 50 cubic meters, Bai Linhou, deputy chief designer of the space station, told CCTV.

The total space available in the base module, including manned and cargo spaceships, is now almost 150 cubic meters, 10 times larger than in the past, Bai said, calling the current accommodations a “villa. ” by comparing.

Each astronaut has their own bedroom, although the team shares a single bathroom, equipment designed to help maintain their physical and mental well-being in conditions of prolonged weightlessness and confined space, said Huang Weifen. , chief designer of astronaut systems for the space program.

The three-month stay is likely to test astronauts’ endurance as they seek to avoid illness and respond to potential emergency incidents. To keep an eye on the well-being of the crew, Tianhe was fitted with an acoustic and optical alarm system to act as an early warning system on the ground for surveillance, Huang said.

In doing this, there is no need for the astronauts to stay awake and be on guard at all times, she said. In addition, the central module has special heating equipment, dedicated areas with appropriate lighting to ensure a good sleep and a pantry filled with more than 120 types of space food.

An apple bag floats in the central module of Tianhe. Photo: VCG

To keep their muscles from atrophying, astronauts should exercise at least two hours, three to four times a week, on treadmills and stationary bikes designed to solve long-term weightlessness issues.

“Astronauts (can) adjust their mood and have fun, while watching movies, listening to their favorite music and reading books,” Huang said. “We have also developed a virtual reality-based system through which astronauts can see their families, familiar life scenes and beautiful landscapes. “

Yang said the mission is doing everything possible to allow the space crew to enjoy a comfortable life in orbit.

Among the new technologies is a regenerative survival system in which the urine and body moisture of Chinese astronauts can be recycled into distilled water that they can drink and use safely during sanitation work, said researcher Pang Zhihao. from the Chinese Academy of Space Technology. The system also produces oxygen by electrolysis of water, he said.

As astronauts have to stay in space longer, there is a trade-off with the resources they need to support themselves. By recycling as much as possible, it reduces the need for more powerful launchers and saves money, Pang said.

Contact reporter Wang Xintong ([email protected]) and editor Lu Zhenhua ([email protected])

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