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Shenzhou 17 astronauts complete China's first in-space repair job
A Shenzhou-17 astronaut during a second EVA to complete the first in-space repair operation by Chinese astronauts.
Shenzhou 17 astronauts complete China's first in-space repair job
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 05, 2024

In a significant milestone for China's space exploration efforts, the Shenzhou XVII mission astronauts conducted a critical repair operation during their second spacewalk at the Tiangong space station, marking the first instance of such an endeavor by Chinese astronauts.

The China Manned Space Agency confirmed that mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo and crew member Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin returned to the Wentian science module at 1:32 pm on Saturday, after nearly eight hours of extravehicular activity, with Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie providing internal support throughout the operation.

This event, the 15th spacewalk conducted by Chinese astronauts, involved the repair of damage to the Tianhe core module's solar wings, attributed to impacts from tiny space debris. The successful operation ensured the solar wings resumed normal function, highlighting the critical nature of such repairs in mitigating potential safety hazards on the orbital station.

Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, emphasized the complexity and importance of extravehicular repair operations. According to Wang, these tasks are essential for the maintenance of the space station's integrity and safety, requiring precise coordination between astronauts and ground control, as well as the use of the station's robotic arm to execute necessary repairs effectively.

The vulnerability of solar wings to space debris, due to their large and thin structure, makes them particularly susceptible to damage, underscoring the importance of the astronauts' repair work.

The Shenzhou XVII crew, who represent the sixth team to inhabit the Tiangong space station since its inception, embarked on their mission on October 26, taking over responsibilities from the preceding Shenzhou XVI mission's crew. Their tenure has been marked by critical operations, including their first spacewalk on December 21, during which they performed test repairs among other tasks.

Scheduled to conclude their mission by the end of April, the Shenzhou XVII astronauts will transfer control of the Tiangong space station to the incoming Shenzhou XVIII crew, before their return journey to Earth. This transition underscores the ongoing cycle of missions aimed at maintaining and advancing the operational capabilities of China's premiere orbital outpost.

The recent repair operation by the Shenzhou XVII crew not only demonstrates China's growing expertise in manned spaceflight but also highlights the collaborative and technical challenges of sustaining life and functionality in the harsh environment of space.

As the Tiangong space station continues to serve as a hub for scientific research and technological demonstrations, the accomplishments of its astronaut crews underscore China's commitment to establishing a sustained human presence in orbit and contributing to the global understanding of space exploration and habitation.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

Related Links
China Manned Space Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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Tiangong Space Station's Solar Wings Restored After Spacewalk Repair by Shenzhou XVII Team
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 04, 2024
The crew of Shenzhou XVII has marked a significant milestone in the history of China's manned space exploration by successfully completing their second spacewalk outside the Tiangong space station. This recent EVA, conducted on Saturday, was particularly noteworthy as it included the first repair operation performed in space by Chinese astronauts, a statement from the China Manned Space Agency confirmed. Mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo and crew member Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin w ... read more

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