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Space log: China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts complete first spacewalk

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China’s Shenzhou-14 astronauts, or taikonauts, successfully completed their first extravehicular activities (EVAs) at 00:33 (Beijing Time) on Friday, which lasted about six hours, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMS).

Taikonaut Chen Dong and Liu Yang, who went outside the cabin, returned safely to the Wentian lab module of the space station after completing all the scheduled tasks. 

This was the first time that the taikonauts exited from the airlock cabin of the new Wentian lab module and carried out the EVAs with the help of the small robotic arm, said the CMS.

Under the coordination between space and Earth, and coordination with taikonaut Cai Xuzhe inside the lab module, Chen and Liu completed a series of tasks, including the installation of the extended pump set of the Wentian lab module, lifting the lab module’s panoramic camera, and the verification of capability for independent transfer and emergency return to the spacecraft.

The EVAs tested the cooperation ability between taikonauts and the small mechanical arm, and tested the function and performance of Wentian’s airlock cabin and support equipment related to EVAs, the CMS said.

China launched the Shenzhou-14 spaceship on June 5, sending the three taikonauts to its space station combination for a six-month mission. 

This is the fifth spacewalk that has been conducted outside China’s space station. Experts say it has been one of “new people, new module, new status.”

Yin Rui, Deputy Chief Commander of the Astronaut System with the CMS, said the spacewalk was a complete success.

“It’s like what we’ve said before. From the very start, we had a plan, and we worked across systems to make it happen one concrete step at a time,” he told CGTN.

Zhang Yuedong, Deputy Chief of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, said Shenzhou-14 crew’s first spacewalk is “meaningful for the construction of China’s space station.”

“This is the first spacewalk from the current two-module space station assembly,” Zhang said. “From now on, EVAs will mostly be done from the Wentian lab module’s airlock cabin. Future preparations for spacewalks will be done more easily. Since supportive equipment and the small robotic arm have been tested out this time, we are now in a better place for future spacewalks.”

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Chinese ambassador: Xi’s visit to usher in next ‘golden’ 30 years of Sino-Kazakh ties

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Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kazakhstan will open up another “golden” 30 years of China-Kazakhstan relations, Chinese Ambassador to Kazakhstan Zhang Xiao said during an exclusive interview with China Media Group (CMG).

Noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Kazakhstan, Zhang said the bilateral ties have been continuously lifted to higher levels with new results achieved. He said he is confident that the visit will provide a new blueprint, impetus and vigor for bilateral ties.

The Chinese ambassador said President Xi’s choice of Kazakhstan for his first visit after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic reflects the high importance China attaches to its relations with Kazakhstan and the high level of permanent comprehensive strategic partnership between the two.

According to Zhang, the two countries’ trade volume reached $17.69 billion in the first seven months of the year, up by 18.9 percent year on year.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the rapid and healthy development of Sino-Kazakh interconnection has made an important contribution to the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, he said.

The Belt and Road Initiative has proved to be a mutually beneficial road of friendship, prosperity and success for China and Kazakhstan, Zhang said.

Referring to the cooperation between China and Kazakhstan in the framework of multilateral organizations, Zhang said China and Kazakhstan are both founding members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Over the past two decades, the two countries have always upheld the “Shanghai spirit,” maintained close communication and collaboration within the SCO framework, facilitated cooperation among SCO countries in various fields, and made important contributions to the promotion of regional security, stability, development and prosperity, said the ambassador.

He said China and Kazakhstan support the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and other mechanisms in promoting the settlement of the Afghan issues and working together to address regional hotspot issues.

Zhang also stressed that China actively supports the Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, which will be hosted by Kazakhstan later this year. Wishing the meeting success, he said he believes it will inject new momentum to enhance trust and strengthen cooperation among Asian countries.

(Cover: A China-Europe freight train arrives from Kazakhstan at Xinzhu Station in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, Northwest China, February 3, 2021. /Xinhua)

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