Shenzhou-13 crew member becomes first female Chinese astronaut to complete spacewalk

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Wang Yaping has become the first female astronaut from China to walk in space.

Making history: Wang made her historic spacewalk from Sunday to early Monday morning during her team’s extravehicular activities at the Tiangong space station, CNN reported.

  • Wang is part of the three-member Shenzhou-13 crew, which arrived at the station on Oct. 16. 
  • Two crew members, including Wang, exited the station for the first time on Nov. 7 to install new exterior components and test the safety of their spacesuits and other equipment. 
  • Wang and astronaut Zhai Zhigang set up transfer connectors and a suspension device to the station’s robotic arm while teammate Ye Guangfu monitored the activity from inside the space station.
  • According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the team successfully completed the spacewalk, which lasted six and a half hours.
  • The team will conduct at least one or two more spacewalks during their six-month mission, which is reportedly the longest period Chinese astronauts have stayed in space.
  • The tests and modifications by the Shenzhou-13 align with the space agency’s December 2022 target to have the station fully operational.
  • Shenzhou-13’s mission comes after the success of another three-member Chinese crew that stayed at the station for three months and completed their mission in September. 

Eyes on Wang: Wang’s spacewalk has been widely celebrated in China, with state media highlighting her achievements and Chinese social media users sharing images and footage released by China’s flight control center.

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  • In one viral clip, Wang is seen waving after stepping out of the space station cabin.

  • The Global Times noted that aside from Wang, there have only been 15 women who have walked in space, the majority of whom were American astronauts.
  • Yang Yuguang, vice chair of the Space Transportation Committee for International Astronautical Federation, commended Wang for her bravery that allowed her to become part of history. 
  • Another female Chinese trailblazer was Liu Yang, a crew member of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft flight who became the first Chinese woman in space in 2012.

Featured Image via CGTN (left) ShanghaiEye (Right)

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