Chinese astronauts complete second spacewalk, all set tasks finished

Chinese astronauts, or taikonauts, of the Shenzhou-12 manned mission have completed the second round of their extravehicular activities (EVAs), also known as a spacewalk, with all scheduled tasks accomplished, said the China Manned Space Engineering Office on Friday.

Donning home-developed new-generation Feitian spacesuits, taikonauts Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming carried out tasks outside of the space station, and Tang Hongbo stayed inside to support his crewmates to complete the operations.

Nie and Liu returned to the space station’s core module Tianhe after a six-hour spacewalk, roughly an hour ahead of schedule. The EVAs were a complete success with the close coordination of the three-man crew.

Taikonaut Nie Haisheng stands on the robotic arm with Earth in background, August 20, 2021. /China Manned Space

The pair, also facilitated by the ground crew, successively completed a series of extravehicular tasks including the installation of extended pump sets and lifting of the panoramic camera D.

The EVAs further examined the functional performance of the spacesuit, the taikonauts’ ability to work with the robotic arm, and the reliability and safety of the support equipment.

Taikonauts Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming carry out tasks during the second round of EVAs, August 20, 2021. /China Manned Space

It is their second round of EVAs during the construction of China’s space station. On August 16, the crew and the ground center jointly conducted a full-procedure rehearsal for the second EVAs, operating the robotic arm and practicing the steps.

The crew’s first spacewalk on July 4 lasted for about seven hours. The team accomplished scheduled tasks, including installing a lifting bracket for one of the extravehicular panoramic cameras, foot restraint and workbench on the robotic arm and other equipment.

The trio will continue to carry out space science and technology experiments as the Shenzhou-12 mission enters its third month in space.

They are expected to return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in mid-September after the spacecraft completes orbiting and radial-direction rendezvous tests.