Tiangong Space Station Solar Wing is Fixed by Chinese Astronauts During an Eight-Hour Spacewalk

Tiangong Space Station Solar Wing is Fixed by Chinese Astronauts During an Eight-Hour Spacewalk

For eight hours last weekend, two Chinese astronauts were outside their space station making repairs.

At China’s Tiangong space station, it was the 14th spacewalk overall and the second extravehicular activity (spacewalk) of the ongoing Shenzhou 17 crewed mission.

Launched on March 1 (2140 GMT; approximately 5:40 a.m. Beijing time), astronaut Jiang Xinlin opened the Wentian experiment module extravehicular activity hatch. Mission commander Tang Hongbo met him outside Tiangong. Tang Shengjie, the third crew member of Shenzhou 17, stayed inside Tiangong to support missions with the robotic arm of the space station.

The primary goal of the mission was to maintain Tiangong’s Tianhe core module’s solar array. There are occasions when micrometeoroids affect these huge area solar panels. Once they were certain that the solar array repairs had restored normal power generation, the two started the extravehicular inspection tasks.

The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) reported that Tang and Jiang arrived back at Wentian safely on March 2 at 05:32 GMT. The spacewalk was scheduled for soon, according to the agency’s announcement the day before. It verified that the EVA happened following the astronauts’ safe return to Wentian.

Later, the agency published brief video snippets of the operation, which included the astronauts moving around Tiangong while attached to the station and performing solar array maintenance.

“The astronauts’ performance was flawless. Although it was Jiang Xinlin’s first time engaging in extravehicular activities on the robotic arm, he showed composure and remained calm,” Wu Dawei, deputy chief designer of China’s manned space program astronaut system told.
“The coordination between him and fellow astronauts, and with the ground team, was perfect. The mission was completed perfectly following our designed procedures and plans in the whole process,” Wu said.

In late October 2023, the Shenzhou 17 mission was launched. In December, they carried out their first spacewalk.

It is anticipated that the crew would finish their six-month assignment on Tiangong and turn over the station in April or May to the Shenzhou 18 crew, who will be arriving.

Sanchita Patil

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