9th Spacewalk outpost Tiangong Space Station
Two Chinese astronauts inhabiting the TianGong space station (Chinese Space Station CSS) carried out an extravehicular activity ('EVA' or 'VKD') of which the Chinese government has been reticent to give details. Taikonauts on the Shenzhou 15 (SZ-15) spacecraft on March 2, 2023, made their second spacewalk aboard China's Tiangong station, said the China Manned Space Program Office (CMSA).
Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu, along with Deng Qingming, who was inside the TianHe base module and supported the work, "completed all tasks together." Afterwards, Junlong and Lu returned “safely” to the Wentian laboratory module ( 'scientific cabin' in Chinese parlance). During work outside the ship, they used two Feitian EV suits (' Space Flyer '), which allow for more than seven hours of activity. The Chinese diving suits have a similar design to the Russian Orlan M and MKS, with the main life support system mounted in the backpack which also acts as a gateway to 'wear' the suit.
The crew has been in orbit for three months since arriving at the Chinese space station in November last year. During that time, the astronauts performed various tasks, including spacewalks, ongoing maintenance of the environment, assembling and testing cabinets for science experiments in the Wentian and Mengtian modules, and exposing experiments outside the station through an airlock. The station is in an orbit of 380 km x 390 km, with a period of 92.25 minutes and an inclination of 41.48 degrees to the equator.
To Work outside the 80-ton complex generally includes installation of scientific equipment, instruments, logistical items and mechanisms. Video documentation of the condition of the outer hull is also made for analysis by ground team specialists in Beijing.
Although the media is silent, experts following the Tiangong activities believe that the main purpose of this EVA was to place a 2nd external coolant pump on the exterior of Mengtian. Previously crews placed 1 on Tianhe, 2 on Wentian & 1 on Mengtian.
In addition, the space station science experiment project is steadily advancing as planned, and has achieved periodic results. Recently, with the cooperation of ground researchers and astronauts, the experimental system in the combustion science cabinet in the WenTian cabin successfully performed the first on-orbit ignition test, which verified the completeness of the function of the combustion science experiment system of the space station and the accuracy of the overall experimental process. With scientificity, it laid a good foundation for the smooth implementation of subsequent projects. In addition, the pre-shipment space station double photon microscope project with the TianZhou 5 cargo spacecraft has also carried out on-orbit experiments and succeeded. For the first time during the space flight, the three-dimensional image of the astronaut’s skin surface and the leather shallow layer was obtained for the future. The astronaut's on-orbit health monitoring provides a new tool.
According to the plan, a number of scientific experiments and technical tests will also be carried out during the manned mission of Shenzhou 15, as well as astronaut crew exit activities and cargo outbatch missions.
The taikonauts on the SZ-15 mission should receive the Tianzhou 6 cargo spacecraft in May , then they will be replaced by the crew that will arrive on the Shenzhou-16 (also scheduled for launch in May), to then return to Earth after six months in space. Later this year, in October, it will be the turn of three more astronauts to arrive on board the Shenzhou-17 to, in turn, replace the crew of the Shenzhou-16. China announced this week that among the astronauts on these manned spacecraft may be a representative of a foreign country, citing that "six [foreign] taikonauts are training at Chinese facilities" at the moment.
In addition, the Chinese decided to take advantage of the modules that were built as reserves for those that have already been launched and expand the space station, coupling the twin of TianHe to the original and adding two more modules to it, the reserves of WenTan and MengTian, one of which multiple docking bay can also be included.