Two Shenzhou-13 astronauts went outside Tianhe space station module of China on Sunday for a 6-hour extravehicular exercise to install equipment. According to China Manned Space Agency, astronaut Ye Guangfu, donning a Fetian EVA suit featuring yellow markings, unlocked Tianhe airlock hatch at around 5:44 a.m. Eastern December 26 before leaving the space station module.
With red marks on his Feitian suit, Zhai Zhigang, the mission commander followed his teammate outside at 6:37 a.m., commencing on his third spacewalk. From within Tianhe, Wang Yaping, the 3rd Shenzhou-13 crew member, aided by manipulating the module’s massive robotic arm.
Outside of Tianhe, the duo raised a 3rd panoramic camera, ran further equipment tests, and made plans for future operations. By 11:55 a.m., all operations had been completed. According to CMSA.
The EVA is the 4th since the Tianhe core module was released in April of this year. Next year, China will conduct testing with the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft, which is presently docked with Tianhe, as well as launch two new science research modules.
Ye’s first spacewalk came after assisting Zhai and Wang Yaping during the first-ever Shenzhou-13 EVA from within Tianhe. During the 2008 Shenzhou-7 flight, Zhai became the very first Chinese citizen to perform a spacewalk, and he engaged in the November EVA together with Wang.
A portion of the EVA was televised by Chinese official media, including CGTN’s English language coverage. Shenzhou-13 was launched on October 15, and the 3 crew members are slated to stay on board until March of the year 2022. Following the Shenzhou-12 flight in June-September, this is the second mission to the Tianhe module.
China’s human spaceflight agency as well as official media have started publishing more frequent updates on the Shenzhou-13 mission, reflecting increased confidence in the space station project’s political, outreach, and soft power possibilities. Several official sites also noted that Shenzhou-13 spacewalk took place on the commemoration of the birth of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China.
Video and pictures from the Shenzhou-12 flight and the opening weeks of Shenzhou-13 were previously restricted. The Shenzhou-13 astronauts gave a live scientific lecture from Tianhe on December 9, giving a tour of the space station and displaying a variety of microgravity phenomena.
The “Tiangong classroom” was designed to arouse schoolchildren’s interest in the STEM education. Children from Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Beijing, and Sichuan Province situated in the southwest, as well as Macao and Hong Kong from outside of the mainland, participated in a question-and-answer session. In contrast to recent reportage on hypersonic vehicle testing, live English language reportage portrays a warm, beneficent aspect to China’s space efforts. There will be more Tiangong classes in the future.