China's Shenzhou 15 astronauts prepare for their 1st spacewalk

Shenzhou 14 astronauts Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe performed a spacewalk outside China's Tiangong space station on Nov. 16-17, 2022.
Shenzhou 14 astronauts Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe performed a spacewalk outside China's Tiangong space station on Nov. 16-17, 2022. (Image credit: CCTV)

China's Shenzhou 15 astronauts aboard the Tiangong space station are all set for their first extravehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk.

China's human spaceflight agency announced on Wednesday (Feb. 8) that the three Shenzhou 15 astronauts — Fei Junlong (mission commander), Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu — were preparing for a spacewalk that will take place within the "next few days."

The spacewalk will see two of the three astronauts put on Feitian EVA suits and exit Tiangong, while the third crew member will support activities from inside the space station. The spacewalk may be broadcast live by Chinese state media.

Related: China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts snap stunning photos of Earth, the moon and more

The Shenzhou 15 crew launched to the Tiangong space station on Nov. 29 of last year. They joined the Shenzhou 14 crew aboard Tiangong, marking both China's historic first crew handover and the start of the operational phase of the newly constructed space station. 

The astronauts have now spent more than 70 days in orbit and have been conducting tasks including testing out the new experiment cabinets installed in the Mengtian science module.

Tiangong carries 24 science cabinets in its Wentian and Mengtian modules, and the Shenzhou 15 crewmates are scheduled to conduct more than 100 science experiments using the new equipment during their six-month stay in orbit.

Fei, Deng and Zhang also celebrated Chinese New Year last month and sent greetings to TV viewers back on Earth. They have hosted space painting and photo exhibitions as well, according to state media. 

The trio are expected to conduct three or four spacewalks before the end of their roughly 180-day-long mission.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.