Two Chinese astronauts went on a spacewalk Saturday from the new space station, which is expected to be finished later this year.
According to state media, Cai Xuzhe and Chen Dong installed pumps, a handle to open the hatch door from outside in an emergency, and a foot-stop to secure an astronaut’s feet to a robotic arm.
China is building its own space station after being denied access to the International Space Station by the United States because the country’s space program is run by the military. American officials see China’s space ambitions as posing a slew of strategic challenges, echoing the rivalry that sparked the race to the moon in the 1960s.
The latest spacewalk was the second of a six-month mission to oversee the space station’s completion. The first of two laboratories, a 23-ton module, was installed on the station in July, and the second is scheduled to be launched later this year.
Liu Yang, the third member of the crew, supported the other two from inside the spacecraft during the spacewalk. About two weeks ago, Liu and Chen performed the first spacewalk.
They will be joined near the end of their mission by three more astronauts, making this the first time the station has six people on board. Following the former Soviet Union and the United States, China became the third nation to send a person into space in 2003. It has sent rovers to the moon and Mars, and it has returned lunar samples to Earth.