Chinese taikonauts prepare for spacewalk

September 27th, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 27 (Xinhua) Two Chinese taikonauts have moved from re-entry module of Shenzhou-VII spacecraft to its orbital module, starting preparations for the country’s first spacewalk mission. According to the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC), two taikonauts were testing the functions of the control panels and charging the EVA (extra-vehicular activities) space suit Saturday morning.

They will put on the EVA space suits after re-entry module hatch is closed behind them, and lead taikonaut Zhai Zhigang will come out of the shuttle to make the spacewalk slated for 4:30 p.m. Saturday, the BACC said.

The two space suits, one $4-million China-made Feitian EVA suit and another Russia-imported Orlan suit, were assembled and tested Friday.

“The three taikonauts on the spacecraft are in sound physical conditions,” the control centre said and added that “their body temperatures and blood pressures are normal and there were no report of malaises”.

The taikonauts have assisted each other in the medical check, which is the third and final check before the space walk.

According to the BACC, the orbital module will be depressurized before one taikonaut opens the hatch and enters outer space.

The planned space walk is expected to last for 30 minutes, during which the spacewalker will walk along a preset route and another taikonaut will stay in the orbital module for technical assistance. The third will remain in the re-entry module.

Wang Zhaoyao, spokesperson with the manned space programme, said the exact duration of the space walk, which will be broadcast live, might be adjusted according to the physical condition of the taikonaut.

Once successful, China will become the third country to master the spacewalk technology after the US and Russia.

Besides spacewalking, the taikonaut will fetch a test sample placed on the exterior surface of the orbital module, according to Wang.

The Shenzhou-VII spacecraft took off from Jiuquan at 9:10 p.m. Thursday, and is scheduled to land on the Inner Mongolia steppe Sunday.

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