China's Shenzhou 16 astronauts complete 1st spacewalk (video)

A pair of Chinese astronauts just performed the first spacewalk of the Shenzhou 16 mission.

Jing Haipeng and Zhu Yangzhu completed their approximately eight-hour extravehicular activity (EVA) outside the Tiangong space station at 1340 GMT (9:40 a.m. EDT; 9:40 p.m. Beijing time) on July 20, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO). 

Shenzhou 16 crewmate Gui Haichao assisted operations from inside Tiangong using the space station's robotic arm.

Related: China's Shenzhou 15 astronauts quietly conduct 3rd spacewalk (video)

A Chinese astronaut waves upon exiting the Tiangong space station's Wentian experiment module airlock during the first Shenzhou 16 spacewalk on July 20, 2023. (Image credit: CCTV)

CMSEO advised of the upcoming activity on Wednesday (July 19), stating that the spacewalk would take place in the near future. The EVA was not broadcast, and it was announced only after the astronauts safely returned to Tiangong.

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that Jing and Zhu completed a variety of tasks, including the installation and lifting of the support frame for a panoramic camera outside Tiangong's Tianhe core module and unlocking and lifting two panoramic cameras outside the Mengtian experiment module. 

Mission commander Jing Haipeng is currently on a national-record fourth trip to space, but this was his first spacewalk. Zhu is the first of China's flight engineer astronauts to embark on an EVA.

Shenzhou 16 launched on May 30. It is the fifth spaceflight mission to visit Tiangong during its construction and operational phases.

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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.