Credit: CMS/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab


Fresh from this week’s third round of spacewalks, China is ready to stage major extravehicular activity (EVA) events in the near-future.

The next planned spacewalking task is transferring the space station’s large solar wings, now attached to the Tianhe core module, and fixing them to the recently-aligned Wentian and Mengtian lab modules, which now form the station’s T-shape configuration.

Credit: CMS/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Wing work

“For the follow-up work, astronauts will perform more extravehicular activities, and each crew need to carry out these spacewalks,” said Wang Xin, a deputy commander responsible for the space station system under the China Academy of Space Technology.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“We will next mainly complete the installation and maintenance of the outboard load. At the same time, an astronaut has to exit the module to transfer the solar wings on the core module to the end of the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules,” Wang told China Central Television (CCTV).

The flexible solar panels on both the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules each have a total length of around 180 feet (55 meters) and a combined area of nearly 280 square meters. These four large solar wings will generate nearly 1,000 kWh of electricity for the China Space Station per day, notes CCTV, which is equivalent to the average electricity consumption of an ordinary family for nearly half a year.

Artwork depicts current T-shape configuration of China space station.
Credit: CNSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Crew handover

On Thursday, China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts — Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe – installed an out-of-cabin bridge, the unlocking of a panoramic camera, and the installation of mounted assistance handles for a small mechanical arm. Taikonaut colleague Liu Yang stayed onboard to support the spacewalkers from inside the orbiting complex.

The three Shenzhou-14 crew members were sent to orbit in June to begin a six-month stint in space. They will see the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crewed spacecraft at the space station later this month and carry out the space station’s first-ever crew handover, another key step to complete the final phase of the construction by the end of the year.

For videos detailing China’s spacewalking work, go to:

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