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Chinese Astronauts Conduct Second Space Walk Outside New Space Station Module

A television screen shows news broadcasting astronauts of the Shenzhou-12 mission conducting extravehicular activities outside the core module Tianhe of the Chinese space station, at a resident’s house in Beijing, Aug. 20, 2021.

The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) says two of the three crew members on board the Chinese space station module Tianhe have conducted their second spacewalk since the crew arrived there in June.

Chinese state television broadcast the six-hour spacewalk live, showing astronauts Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming hard at work fixing a robotic arm, installing thermal control equipment and adjusting a camera.

The third astronaut, Tang Hongbo, carried out the team’s first spacewalk July 4, and he assisted Friday’s event from inside the module’s control room. The spacewalk was the third ever in China’s space program.

The crew members arrived June 17 for a three-month mission aboard the Tianhe module, which will make up the core of China's third orbital station, scheduled to be fully operational and crewed by the end of next year. The module was launched April 29.

China says two more modules are expected to be added to the space station and once it is completed, it will operate for at least 10 years. It is designed to be permanently occupied by astronauts on long-term stays.

The space station is the third built by the Chinese, who have been excluded from the International Space Station due to U.S. political objections and legislative restrictions.

The country's space program has become more ambitious in the past decade and in the past year alone has landed exploratory rovers on the moon and Mars.

While astronauts from the European Space Agency (ESA) have flown on U.S. or Russian spacecraft to the ISS, China is only the third country to conduct its own manned missions into space.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and the French news agency, AFP.