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Cloudy forecast for the day, will China's spacewalk make it?

BEIJING (BNS): The weather forecast for Jiuquan is cloudy for the day with significant chances of showers. When all the world’s eyes are set on China today, it is ultimately the weather conditions, which will decide whether China’s first attempt at spacewalk will take place according to the schedule.

According to the original plans and with grand preparations, China is all set to launch its third manned spacecraft Shenzhou VII from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province, later today.

According to country’s space programme spokesperson Wang Zhaoyao, the launch is set between 9:07 pm to 10:27 pm Beijing Time. And the spacewalk is scheduled for Friday.

The space official said that one of the major tasks of the mission was conducting the first extravehicular activity (EVA) or the space walk on the moon. The success of the spacewalk will mark the beginning of China’s dream to realise the setting up of a space station.

Here also China is trying to beat the international norms for spacewalk. According to international routine the spacewalk is done on the third or the fourth day of the mission, but the Chinese astronaut is set to make the spacewalk on the second day itself.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua quoting Wang said that other tasks included the release of a small monitoring satellite and trials of satellite data relay. The agency said that the Shenzhou VII, carrying three astronauts will be launched on a Long-March II-F carrier rocket and then moved into the orbit at an altitude of 343 km. Two astronauts would enter the orbital module, where they would put on EVA spacesuits and prepare for the EVA. One astronaut will wear the Chinese-made Feitian EVA suit and the other will wear a Russian Orlan suit.

Wang said, “One astronaut will get out of the cabin and take back the test samples loaded outside the module. After the EVA is completed, the spacecraft will release a small monitoring satellite. A trial of the data relay of satellite Tianlian I will also be carried out.”

Comparing with the previous manned space missions, Wang, also deputy director of China's manned space programme office said, that the Shenzhou VII faced unprecedented technical difficulties.

Chen Shanguang, commander-in-chief of the astronaut system, told Xinhua that the Chinese-made EVA spacesuit cost 30 million yuan (about USD 4.4 million) and can be worn by astronauts of 160 cm to 180 cm height.

The news agency giving details about the spacesuit said that the EVA spacesuit provides a pressurised atmosphere, oxygen and temperature control for the astronauts. It also protects the astronauts from radiation, micrometeoroids and other harmful particles in space. It also allows astronauts to communicate with others.

“China spent less than four years on developing the EVA spacesuit and its design and assembling have been done independently in the country,” Chen said.

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