China’s 3rd Manned Space Mission and its Maiden Spacewalk

Shenzhou-7 launching

The Long-March II-F carrier rocket carrying the Shenzhou-7 spaceship blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on 21:10 pm, Sept. 25, 2008. Credit: Xinhua/Li Gang.

China has successfully launched its third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 last Thursday from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province of northwestern China. There are three taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) onboard, namely Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, all aged 42. 

Shenzhou-7 taikonauts  

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center held a ceremony Thursday afternoon for the three taikonauts due to board the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft before the start of the mission. Credit: Xinhua Photo

The spacecraft, which consists of the orbital module, re-entry module and propelling module, is designed for a voyage of up to five days. But the Shenzhou-7 mission will only last about three days, flying in a circular orbit 343 kilometres above the Earth, orbiting every 90 minutes.

Shenzhou-7 is China third manned spacecraft, after Shenzhou-5 and Shenzhou-6. This mission is different from the previous ones in the sense that it will attempt the country’s first-ever extravehicular activity (EVA) or spacewalk.

Although there are three taikonauts onboard, only one taikonaut will perform the spacewalk and it has been confirmed that it will be perform by the mission leader Zhai Zhigang. Zhai will be assisted by a second taikonaut, Liu Boming, in the orbital module. The third astronaut, Jing Haipeng, will remain in the re-entry module during the whole process of the spacewalk to keep an eye on the vessel operation. The spacewalk, expected to last about 30 minutes, is scheduled to take place at 4:30 pm today.

There are two different spacesuits for the taikonauts. One is a home-made suit called Feitian, which literally means flying the sky, which cost about 4.4 million USD, and takes up to 15 hours for taikonaut to assemble and put on. The other one is a Russia-imported Orlan suit.

If Shenzhou-7 mission is successful, China will become the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to accomplish a spacewalk, a crucial capacity if China is to have its own permanent space station.

Shenzhou-7 scheduled to land on the Inner Mongolia steppe on Sunday after the mission is completed.

Animation of Shenzhou-7 Spacecraft

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~ by thChieh on September 27, 2008.

One Response to “China’s 3rd Manned Space Mission and its Maiden Spacewalk”

  1. […] Maiden Spacewalk a Success China’s first-ever spacewalk is a success, so China now is the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States […]

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