China’s Astronauts Break Record with 8.5-Hour Spacewalk to Fortify Space Station

Chinese astronauts achieved a remarkable milestone by completing an 8.5-hour spacewalk outside the Tiangong space station on Tuesday, May 28. This historic event marks the longest spacewalking or extravehicular activity (EVA) record for China to date.

Ye Guangfu and Li Guangsu, members of the Shenzhou 18 mission crew, undertook the spacewalk to install space debris protection shields on one of the modules of the orbital station. The third crew member, Li Cong, provided support within the Tiangong station during the EVA.

During the spacewalk, the astronauts meticulously checked extravehicular equipment and facilities outside the station. This task was critical due to recent concerns about space debris, which led to a partial power loss on the Tiangong station when debris damaged its solar panels.

The astronauts, equipped with second-generation “Feitian” spacesuits, began the EVA at 10:35 a.m. Beijing time by exiting the Wentian experiment module. Ye and Li successfully performed their tasks with precision and accuracy, returning safely to the station at 6:58 p.m.

This extended spacewalk not only sets a new record for China but also marks the first EVA of the six-month Shenzhou 18 mission, which commenced in late April. China’s commitment to space exploration is evident through its plans to expand Tiangong with additional modules in the near future.

With a total of 16 spacewalks conducted by Chinese astronauts thus far, the nation continues to demonstrate its capabilities in complex tasks within the space environment. China’s independent space program, highlighted by the Tiangong space station, reflects its dedication to advancing scientific research and technological innovations beyond Earth’s atmosphere.