Sun. Nov 28th, 2021

Wang is one of three astronauts on a six-month mission to build the Tiangong space station.

Astronaut Wang Yaping became the first Chinese woman to step into space, authorities said Monday as part of a six-month mission to the country’s space station.

Wang and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang left the main module of Tiangong station for more than six hours to install equipment and perform tests along the station’s robotic arm as part of its ongoing construction, according to the China Manned Space Agency ( CMS).

The third member of the crew, Ye Guangfu, provided assistance from within the station, CMS said on its website.

Tiangong, meaning “heavenly palace”, is a crucial part of China’s military-led quest to become a leading space power after landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the Moon.

Its core module entered orbit earlier this year, with the station expected to be operational by 2022.

Wang, 41, and Zhai, 55, previously traveled to China’s now-retired experimental space stations, and Zhai made China’s first spacewalk 13 years ago.

Both waved to the camera as they were pinned to the outside of the station.

“This is the first out-of-vehicle activity of the Shenzhou 13 crew, and it is also the first in China’s space history to involve the participation of a female astronaut,” the CMS said in a statement early Monday.

“The whole process was smooth and successful,” the agency added.

Tiangong is expected to work for at least 10 years, and the three astronauts are the second group to stay with Wang the first woman there.

Their work involves setting up equipment and testing technology for future construction, with at least one more space walk planned.

The team is expected to spend six months at the station.

The station’s Tianhe module will be linked next year to two more divisions called Mengtian and Wentian. The completed station will weigh about 66 tons, much smaller than the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs about 450 tons.

Three space walks are planned to install equipment in preparation for the station’s expansion, while the crew will also assess living conditions in the Tianhe module and conduct experiments in space medicine and other fields.

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