West News Wire: A spacewalk by two Chinese astronauts took place on Saturday from a new space station that will be built later this year.
Pumps, a handle to open the hatch door from the outside in an emergency, and a foot-stop to secure an astronaut’s feet to a robotic arm were all fitted by Cai Xuzhe and Chen Dong, according to official media.
Because its military controls the nation’s space program, China was denied access to the International Space Station and is now building its own space station. In a nod to the U.S.-Soviet competition that led to the race to the moon in the 1960s, American officials see a variety of geopolitical dangers from China’s space ambitions.
The latest spacewalk was the second during a six-month mission that will oversee the completion of the space station. The first of two laboratories, a 23-ton module, was added to the station in July and the other is to be sent up later this year.
The third member of the crew, Liu Yang, supported the other two from inside during the spacewalk. Liu and Chen conducted the first spacewalk about two weeks ago.
They will be joined by three more astronauts near the end of their mission in what will be the first time the station has six people on board.
China became the third nation to send a person into space in 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States. It has sent rovers to the moon and Mars and brought lunar samples back to Earth.