This was only the second time the country’s astronauts had exited their spacecraft while in space.
Three Chinese astronauts blasted off in June and docked at Tiangong Station, where they will stay for three months on China’s longest manned mission to date.
The state broadcaster CCTV said that two of them left the main cabin on Sunday morning. The first was moved by a mechanical arm to a working position and the other, the second, was moved by climbing on the outside of the cabin.
State media said their job includes raising the panoramic camera outside the Tianhe base unit, as well as checking the robotic arm’s transportation capability.
Television footage showed astronauts preparing for a spacewalk by wearing equipment and undergoing medical examinations while exercising in the cabin.
The astronauts were later shown opening the cabin door and exiting the unit, on the first two spacewalks planned for the mission, both expected to last six or seven hours.
The launch of China’s first manned mission in nearly five years is a matter of great prestige for the country, as Beijing celebrates the centenary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party this month.
The Chinese space agency is also planning a total of 11 launches by the end of next year, including three more manned missions that will provide two laboratory units to expand the 70-tonne station, along with supplies and crew members.
In addition to Mr. Liu and Mr. Tang, the mission commander is Mr. Ni Haisheng, a decorated Air Force pilot of the People’s Liberation Army who has already participated in two space missions.
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