A Chinese astronaut on Saturday performed the nation`s first-ever spacewalk, the latest milestone in an ambitious program that is increasingly rivaling the United States and Russia in its rapid expansion.
Mission commander Zhai Zhigang floated out of the orbiter module`s hatch in the spacewalk, shown live on state broadcaster CCTV. Tethered to handles attached to the Shenzhou 7 ship`s orbital module`s exterior, Zhai remained outside for about 13 minutes before climbing back inside and closing the hatch behind him.
`Shenzhou 7 has left the module, physically feel very good. Greetings to all the people of the nation and all the people of the world,` Zhai said.
Text and Images: AP
Image: The Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower are transferred to the launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Gansu province in this September 20, 2008 file photo. China performs its crowning feat in a year of national drama in coming days, when an astronaut floats out of an airlock in space.