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China: Wang Yaping will be the first Chinese astronaut to conduct a spacewalk

At the scheduled time, 00.23 today, local time (16.23 GMT this Friday), it took off from Jiuquan, in the north of China, the Long March 2F rocket carrying the ship Shenzhou-13 with three astronauts on board, Efe confirmed.

Three hours before they left the Land, a farewell ceremony was held for the three cosmonauts: Zhai Zhigang, 51 years old, Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, also 41.

During the event, they were confident in the mission ahead: to continue the construction of the Chinese space station Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”, in Mandarin) and stay in it for six months, longer than the stay in space of any Chinese astronaut to date.

According to the deputy director of the Manned Mission Space Agency, Lin Xiqiang, previous guests of the station have been “in communication” with the crew of the Shenzhou-13 to guide them regarding life at the station.

A station under construction

Shenzhou-13 will be the fourth spacecraft to visit Tiangong and the second with a crew, after Shenzhou-12 carried three returning astronauts there. Land last September after staying there for three months, Efe said.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2022, after the crews of the future Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 complete the planned works.

Once completed, missions in which astronauts spend several months at the station will be common, so one of the main objectives of Shenzhou-13 is “to test the ability of the station and the crew to withstand long periods of time. stays “.

The station, which will weigh about 70 tons and is expected to operate for about 15 years orbiting about 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface, will receive on board Shenzhou-13 Wang Yaping, the first woman to step on it.

Two veterans and a rookie

Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping they have previously visited outer space, in 2008 and 2013, respectively. It will, however, be the first time for Ye Guangfu, the youngest.

The three will have to live together for six months in a reduced space, but, during a meeting with the media held at the foot of the structure, Huang Weifen, one of the mission’s chief designers, assured that the personality of the astronauts has been taken into account in the selection: “Zhai is an optimistic and funny man and Wang is a cheerful person” while Ye, the first-timer, ” it has a great capacity for sacrifice. “

Huang explained that “the psychological effect of isolation and muscle wasting” are some of the aspects that most concern scientists.

Yaping the first woman on China’s space station (Photo: Chinese Embassy in Mexico)

According Huang, astronauts “will be able to watch live videos, read books and talk with their families” to alleviate loneliness and have been instructed to “exercise” aimed at avoiding muscle problems.

The authorities of the space program explained Thursday that the crew is scheduled to carry out “two or three” special walks and, if Wang is the one in charge, she will become the first Chinese woman to do so.

Wang already gained fame on his previous trip, in 2013, when he gave live video weightless physics classes to millions of Chinese students, which he will repeat on this trip.

A space station of your own

The deputy director of the Manned Mission Space Agency, Lin Xiqiang, recognized that the veto by the United States for collaboration between the POT and any institution related to the Chinese government had “some influence” on the project of a Chinese space station.

That decision, made by the US Congress. In 2011, it came after years of suspicions that China had used information from US satellite manufacturers to develop its ICBMs, as claimed in a 1999 US House of Representatives report.

Be that as it may, Chinese astronauts were excluded from the Station Space International, where they have never set foot.

However, Lin explained that China He “already had his own plans” for his space program, which he has been developing since the 1950s.

Lin acknowledged that the US space program “is number one,” but scientists who chatted with the press showed faith in its possibilities.

When asked if he felt pressure before launch, He Yu, one of the scientists participating in the program, answered without hesitation: “No pressure.”

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