BEIJING: China will broadcast live the nation’s maiden spacewalk slated for Saturday, said Wang Zhaoyao, spokesperson with the space programme.
The spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), would last about 30 minutes, he said on Friday. Excluding the opening and the closing of the module gate, the real spacewalk may take about 20 minutes, he added. One of the three taikonauts — Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng — aboard the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft would conduct the spacewalk.
Mr. Wang said the duration might be adjusted according to the physical conditions of the taikonauts. According to the schedule, the taikonauts would finish testing the space suits by Saturday afternoon. The spacecraft would have made 19 orbits around the Earth by then. Then they would begin a 100-minute training in the orbital module before the EVA. Currently, the spaceship has made 12 orbits.
The EVA includes two tasks of spacewalking and fetching a piece of experimental material fixed on the exterior surface of the orbital module.
Two taikonauts began to unpack and assemble the indigenous Feitian spacesuit on Friday in the orbital module while the other, Jing Haipeng, stayed in the re-entry module to keep a eye on the vessel operation. The taikonauts would wear two space suits, including the Chinese Fetian and Russian Orlan suits.
Feitian, which means ‘flying the sky’, has 10 layers and weighs about 120 kg. The domestically-made suit costs about $4.4 million and takes up to 15 hours for astronaut to assemble and put on. China spent nearly four years in developing the suit.
A Russia company provided the three Orlan suits, two low-pressure training suits, four suits for underwater training, and four sets of docking systems in the craft. China had made a series of technical breakthroughs, including the research and development of an EVA suit and an airlock module.
The EVA process cannot be simulated completely on ground and some of the newly developed products are to be tested in flight for the first time. Thus, the capability and skills of the taikonauts and the quality of their operations directly determine the result of the mission, said Mr. Wang. — Xinhua
6 months ago