Shenzhou-14 crew’s second spacewalk went ‘extremely well’

The second spacewalk of China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts, or taikonauts, which concluded on Saturday, went “very smoothly” and “extremely well,” said Huang Weifen, chief designer of the China Manned Space Program’s astronaut system.

Shenzhou-14 crew's second spacewalk went 'extremely well'

The extravehicular activities (EVAs) began at 1:35 p.m. Beijing time on Saturday when taikonaut Cai Xuzhe opened the hatch of the airlock cabin of the Wentian laboratory module. At 15:33, both Cai and Mission Commander Chen Dong were outside the space station. Her crew member Liu Yang remained in the core module to support her operations. Cai and Chen returned to the laboratory module at 17:47 after approximately five hours of EVAs, and the China Manned Space Agency declared the mission a complete success. The taikonauts completed a number of tasks, including installing an auxiliary handle outside the vehicle to help them open the hatch from outside the space station in an emergency, and additional pumps — the core equipment of the space station’s thermal control system. “The whole process went smoothly. “We have improved the flow of EVAs after the last spacewalk on September 1st. This time the tasks were better ordered and all systems worked so well together that efficiency was greatly improved.” She said all three taikonauts did a great job on the mission, particularly the two crew members who ventured out of the cabin. During Saturday’s EVAs, taikonauts verified off-vehicle rescue capability for the first time to test whether a taikonaut could rescue a levitated crewmate outside of the station in an emergency.

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During Saturday’s challenging simulated rescue mission, Cai, who was on his first-ever spacewalk, let go of the rails outside the cabin and was “rescued” by Chen. Cai’s performance was particularly impressive, Huang said. “He showed great courage because he had to let go of the rails in space and rely completely on his crewmate. It needs absolute trust in its crewmates.” Since the Shenzhou-12 crew’s first spacewalk last year, a total of six EVAs have been conducted outside of China’s new space station, involving increasingly difficult tasks, Huang said. “Apart from the tasks envisaged for the construction of the space station, we had designed various verification tests that not only help train the taikonauts, but also help to gather valuable experience and data,” she said. For example, in previous EVAs, taikonaut Wang Yaping stood on the robotic arm to test its functions. This time, the emergency rescue attempt outside the vehicle was more difficult, Huang noted. The workload performed by the Shenzhou-14 crew during the two EVAs is significant, Huang said, with their first EVAs being the most strenuous to date. “They will also welcome the arrival of the Mengtian laboratory module, the Tianzhou-5 cargo ship and the Shenzhou-15 crew. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

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Source: This news was originally published by cgtn

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