Chinese astronauts test suit for spacewalk mission

September 26th, 2008 - 9:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 26 (Xinhua) Astronauts aboard China’s Shenzhou VII spacecraft Friday finished assembling a spacesuit for tests before carrying out the country’s first spacewalk mission.Two of the three astronauts unpacked the Chinese-made suit inside the orbital module of the spacecraft as the third astronaut waited in the re-entry module.

The spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), slated for 4.30 p.m. Saturday will last about 30 minutes, Wang Zhaoyao, spokesperson of the manned space programme said Friday.

Astronaut Zhai Zhigang was slated to make the spacewalk and perform tasks such as retrieving a 3-kg solid lubricant experiment from the rear of the Shenzhou VII.

The other two crew members, Jing Haiping and Liu Boming, are to assist Zhai with exiting and re-entering the spacecraft.

The spacewalk would be broadcast live by the state television, Wang said.

According to the schedule, the astronauts would finish testing the space suits at 1 a.m. Saturday when the spacecraft completes 19 orbits around the earth, he said.

Then they would begin a 100-minute warm-up in the orbital module before undertaking the spacewalk, he said.

The Shenzhou spaceship, the country’s third manned space flight, was launched Thursday from Jiuquan satellite launch centre in the Gansu province in northwest and is considered as an important step to China’s plan for a space station.

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