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Wang Yaping becomes first Chinese woman to walk in space

A former Air Force pilot, though she’s the first Chinese woman to walk in space, Ms Yaping had travelled to space back in 2013 to the Tiangong-1.

• November 8, 2021
Wang Yaping
Wang Yaping

Astronaut Wang Yaping has become the first Chinese woman to walk in space as she carried out work to install equipment and conduct tests outside the Tiangong space station.

Ms Yaping’s historic walk is part of a six-month mission to China’s space station.

“This marks the first extravehicular activity of the Shenzhou-13 crew, and it is also the first in China’s space history involving the participation of a woman astronaut,” said the China Manned Space Agency in a statement on Monday.

Ms Yaping and fellow taikonaut, as China calls them, Zhai Zhigang left the main module of the Tiangong station for more than six hours to install equipment and carry out tests alongside the station’s robotic arm as part of its ongoing construction. The third crew member, Ye Guangfu, assisted the team from within the space station.

The Shenzhou-13 crew took off from a launch center in the Gobi Desert in October, and will be in space on a six-month mission in the Tianhe module, the core of the space station.

The Tiangong station is projected to be in operation for at least 10 years, and the team of three astronauts are the second group to stay there. Its core module Tianhe is slated to eventually be connected to two other sections, called Mengtian and Wentian.

A report by Reuters notes that China intends to finish its new space station by the end of 2022.

Though Ms Yaping is the first Chinese woman to visit the station, she is a former Air Force pilot who had travelled to space back in 2013 to Tiangong-1 and the Mission commander Zhai Zhigang is a former fighter pilot who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008.

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