Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo have become the main protagonists of the day in China . This Sunday they carried out a spacewalk outside the Tiangong station, the first by Chinese astronauts since Commander Zhai Zhigang did it in 2008 .
During their walk, which lasted seven hours, according to the Chinese Space Agency, they carried out several tasks of checking the space station they had arrived at last June. They must remain in it for three months.
“Oh, it’s so beautiful out here,” Liu said, in a video filmed as he left the cabin. The mission of the two astronauts consisted of raising the panoramic camera out of the central Tianhe module, as well as verifying the transfer capacity of the robotic arm that they will use to transfer modules around the station.
Television footage showed astronauts donning suits and conducting spacewalk readiness medical assessments. They later appeared at the cabin door as they exited the module, in the first of two spacewalks planned during their stay at Tiangong Station.
This is the first manned mission in five years that China has carried out , and represents a good injection of image as it coincides with the centennial month of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party . The mission is made up of three astronauts, Liu Boming, Tang Hongbo and Nie Hauiseng, its commander, who have had to undergo more than 6,000 hours of training . Haisheng carries two more space missions and is one of the most decorated pilots in the People’s Liberation Army.
The Chinese Space Agency plans to carry out eleven more launches until the end of 2022, and three of them will be manned. These missions will serve to deliver two additional laboratory modules to expand the Tiangong station, in addition to providing supplies and crew. This station has a life expectancy of ten years, and the Chinese authorities have stated that they are open to international collaboration.
The Chinese interest in having its own base with astronauts in Earth orbit was the consequence of the US refusal to give it access to the International Space Station (ISS) , in which that country, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan collaborate. The ISS is due to be retired in 2024, although NASA says it could potentially remain operational until beyond 2028.