China’s first female spacewalker conducts six-hour task outside station

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China, Space Station; China female spacewalk
Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping outside the Chinese space station's Tianhe core module

Wang Yaping has become the first Chinese woman to conduct a spacewalk as part of a six-month mission to the country’s space station.

Wang and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang left the station’s main module on Sunday evening, spending more than six hours outside installing equipment and carrying out tests alongside the station’s robotic service arm, according to the China Manned Space (CMS) agency.

The third member of the crew, Ye Guangfu, assisted from inside the station, CMS said on its website.

Wang, 41, and Zhai, 55, had both travelled to China’s now-retired experimental space stations, and Zhai conducted China’s first spacewalk 13 years ago.

The three are the second crew on the permanent station, and the mission that began with their arrival October 16 is scheduled to be the longest stretch of time in space yet for Chinese astronauts.

The Tianhe module of the station will be connected next year to two more sections named Mengtian and Wentian.

The completed station will weigh some 66 tons, far smaller than the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 450 tons.

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