China launched three astronauts — Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo — into space in June. On Sunday morning, two of them left the core module of the space station, called Tiangong or Heavenly Palace, the CMSA said.
During the spacewalk, they tested new-generation spacesuits, installed equipment, elevated a panoramic camera and tested the station’s robotic arm.
China has previously operated two space labs in orbit, the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2, both of which were trials for the larger space station the country is now building.
Chinese astronauts have long been excluded from the international space station (ISS), due to US political objections and legislative restrictions. Russia, a longtime contributor on the ISS, has also left the project and is now considering launching its own space station by 2030.
Zhou Jianping, chief designer on the country’s manned space program said in June that while China is not currently considering foreign participation in the space station’s development, non-Chinese astronauts will “certainly” be welcomed in the years to come.
“There are a number of countries that have expressed a desire to do that and we will be open to that in future,” said Zhou.
Lily Lee reported from Hong Kong, Amy Woodyatt wrote from London. Ben Westcott and Yong Xiong contributed reporting.