China's space station: Shenzhou-13 crew completes first spacewalks
Taikonauts Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping have completed their extravehicular activities (EVAs) and returned to Tianhe, the core module of China's space station, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said on Monday.
The two Shenzhou-13 crew members returned to the docking hatch at 1:16 a.m. (Beijing Time) on Monday. The entire mission went smoothly.
Wang has become not only the first Chinese woman to have boarded the space station, but also the first to have conducted a spacewalk.
At 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Zhai and Wang went out of the core module, entered the docking hatch and put on the "Feitian" extravehicular spacesuit, as taikonaut Ye Guangfu stayed inside to assist the operation. At 6:51 p.m., Zhai opened the hatch and went out of the space station, the second time after his first EVA 13 years ago.
During routine communication with the ground, the three taikonauts' playful banter during regular check-ins sparked joyful comments on the internet.
"This is 01, I'm out of the space station, all good," Zhai reported to the ground. "This is 02, I'm going out of the space station soon, all good," followed Wang. "This is 03, I'll go out of the space station next time, all good," added Ye from the cabin. "I'm watching you going out of the space station, all good," wrote a netizen after hearing the news, imitating the expression.
The EVA involved the installation of some more parts of the robotic arm to ensure better functionality for future tasks.
Tang Zixin, supervisor of the robotic arm project, said a connector joining the two parts of the arm was installed this time. "The two parts of the arm can stretch 15 meters in width for functioning in a large area."
Zhu Guangchen, deputy chief designer of the space station from the China Academy of Space Technology, said the space station was adjusted for this mission, including its flying posture and the direction of the solar panel and communication antenna. "The operation is precise," Zhu said.
In addition, Wang recorded Zhai's operation with a camera on her helmet during the EVA.
"We are gaining more experience in such operations, building up a great foundation for the future," said Huang Weifen, chief designer of the Astronaut Center of China, after the mission.
At 2:20 a.m., Ye entered the docking hatch and embraced his crewmates. "I'm here for you! Come on, let's hug!"