Astronaut Wang Yaping ventured outside China’s Tiangong space station for six hours on November 8.
She made the spacewalk to install equipment with fellow Shenzhou-13 crew member Zhai Zhigang.
Shenzhou-13’s three-member crew is on a six-month mission to move construction forward at the Chinese space station.
Astronaut Wang Yaping has become the first woman in Chinese history to walk in space.
Wang, 41, is one of the three astronauts – or taikonauts, China’s term for the country’s space explorers – currently stationed at the Tiangong space station. She is part of the Shenzhou-13 crew, which blasted off from a launch center in the Gobi Desert on October 16 to embark on a six-month mission in the Tianhe module, the core of the space station.
Wang and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang, 55, left the Tianhe module and ventured out into space on November 8 for six hours to install equipment and test the station’s robotic arm, per a media release from the China Manned Space Agency (CMS). The third crew member, Ye Guangfu, 41, assisted the team from within the space station.
“This marks the first extravehicular activity of the Shenzhou-13 crew, and it is also the first in China’s space history involving the participation of a woman astronaut,” the CMS said in its statement. “The whole process was smooth and successful.”
In a video published by the South China Morning Post, the astronauts are seen performing tasks outside their space station and waving hello via a livestream beamed to Earth.
Wang, Zhai, and Ye will continue to work on the space station during their six-month stay. China’s space agency said the team will “carry out tasks such as mechanical arm operation, extravehicular activities, and modules transfer” and test how a long-term stay in space would work within the country’s space station, in terms of resource management and life support.
Tiangong, which can be translated to mean “heavenly palace,” is currently under construction. Its core module Tianhe is slated to eventually be connected to two other sections, Mengtian and Wentian. China plans to finish its new space station by the end of 2022, a task that will involve at least seven more missions, per Reuters.
Under to the 2011 Wolf Amendment, Chinese astronauts were banned from launching to the International Space Station (ISS) by US law. However, the ISS may be out of commission by the 2030s, which might leave Tiangong as the only working space station at that point.
China previously sent another crew into space, composed of taikonauts Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng, and Liu Boming. The trio, who made up the Shenzhou-12 crew, landed in Mongolia on September 17 after a three-month stay at the Tiangong space station. At the time, Shenzhou-12’s mission was the longest space flight in Chinese history, but that record is now set to be broken by Shenzhou-13’s taikonauts.
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