Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping scripted history Sunday when she walked in space, becoming the first woman from her country to do so. Accompanied by Shenzhou-13 space mission team member Zhai Zhigang, Yaping completed the six-and-a-half-hour long spacewalk in the wee hours of Monday morning, as per the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
The duo made their return to the core module in Tianhe around 1:16 am on November 8, according to state-run media Global Times. The milestone Yaping has achieved will be followed by more spacewalks, the report states.
The CMSA website mentions this is China’s 21st flight mission since the launch of the country’s manned space program. Yaping, Zhigang and the third crew member Ye Guangfu “will be stationed in Tianhe core module and stay in orbit for six months, carry out tasks such as mechanical arm operation, extravehicular activities and modules transfer” in order to explore areas of long-term space stay and resource recycling.
Yaping is notably among the few top female astronauts in China. Preceded only by Colonel Liu Yang, Yaping is the second Chinese woman in space, a feat she achieved in 2013. While this was Yaping’s first spacewalk, her companion Zhigang is credited with leading his country’s first spacewalk in 2008, as per media site Space.com.
Wang Yaping Walks Beyond The Glass Ceiling Into Space
The Shenzhou-13 spaceship took off on October 16 this year from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. According to CNN, a video of 41-year-old Yaping waving back to Earth and expressing joy after stepping out of their station for the first time since the launch was released by authorities and has gone viral on Chinese social media.
Globally, only 16 women including Yaping have conducted spacewalks.
Local reports suggest Yaping hails from Yantai in Shandong. She is a graduate of the Changchun Air Force Aviation College and has been a captain in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force. As a top astronaut in her country, Yaping has spoken about space exploration being “an endless endeavour” and that “it requires generations to make efforts.”