Netizens excited and moved with spacewalk by Taikonauts Wang Yaping and Zhai Zhigang
Published: Nov 07, 2021 11:44 PM
Wang Yaping steps out of the Tianhe space station core module on November 7, 2021. Photo: VCG

Wang Yaping steps out of the Tianhe space station core module on November 7, 2021. Photo: VCG

As the heroes of the Shenzhou-13 crew are setting a new national milestones in space, the Chinese public is overwhelmed with excitement and emotion. On late Sunday night, Chinese netizens expressed their congratulations and admiration to spacewalking taikonauts, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping. 

This is Zhai's second spacewalk, a 55-year-old veteran taikonaut, after the one he made during the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, which also was the first in the country's history. 

The video footage comparing Zhai's two space walks across 13 years was widely reposted on the Chinese internet. Many citizens said they are moved by his story. 

After both spacewalks, Zhai repeated the same phrase, "I'm out of the cabin and feeling good." However, Sunday's tone was noticeably more relaxed than it was 13 years ago.

What many people do not know is that Zhai almost had a close call when he exited the cabin 13 years ago.

When Zhai was trying to get out of the cabin, a voice warned saying, "Orbital module fire! Orbital module fire!" 

In a moment when everyone was nervous and worried, ground command center heard Zhai and the rest of the crew saying that even if there is fire, the mission must continue.

So, the whole world watched Zhai, wearing a white space suit and waving the national flag, to the Chinese people and to the people of the world.

The fire alarm turned out to be a false alarm but the determination of the three taikonauts impressed everyone.

Wang, 41, also became the first Chinese woman to walk in space during the Sunday Extravehicular Activity (EVA) mission, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) told the Global Times on Sunday.

The hashtag "Wang Yaping becomes China's first female taikonaut to walk in space" shot to the top of the chart of China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo almost the moment she took her first step in space. 

Numerous netizens left messages of support and pride for Wang, calling her the Chang'e fairy, a goddess who flew to the moon according to traditional Chinese mythology.

As of 10:30 pm Sunday, the hashtag had more than 120 million views and 19,000 related posts. 

Wang's achievement has expanded the team of female taikonauts who have performed an EVA. Before Wang, a total of 15 women have participated in 42 spacewalks since 1984, when cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space.

Ye Guangfu, the third and youngest crew member of the Shenzhou-13 mission, stayed inside the orbiting Tianhe core module to provide support while the pair conducted the spacewalk on Sunday.

Sunday's EVA also marked the first spacewalk of the Shenzhou-13 mission and the third of its kind during the construction of the country's space station. 

In the previous Shenzhou-12 mission, commander Nie Haisheng conducted two successful spacewalks during their three-month stay in the Tianhe core module verifying the reliability of the craft's smart robotic arm.