China: first tandem spacewalk for two astronauts

Two Chinese astronauts to work on China’s new space station Tiangong on Sunday conducted the first tandem spacewalk for the Chinese, the Chinese space agency for manned flights said.

The crew, a trio of men, took off from the Gobi Desert (northwest China) in late June. His spacecraft was then docked at Tianhe, one of three space station modules already in orbit, where he is to stay for three months, the longest manned space mission ever led by China.

They are tasked with continuing to build the station, and on Sunday morning they both ventured into space together – for the first time in Chinese space history. The first, Liu Boming, was escorted to where he is supposed to operate with a mechanical hand, while the second, Tang Hongbo, simply exited through an airlock.

Specifically, they will have to erect a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe module, and test the mechanical arm that will be used to move future modules from the station, and are expected to spend six to seven hours outside.

This is the first spacewalk for Chinese astronauts since Zhai Zhigang in 2008, which made China the third country after the Soviet Union and the United States to launch an astronaut into space.

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