Shenzhou 18 Astronauts Complete Second Spacewalk, Smoothly

July 4, 2024

Shenzhou 18 Astronauts Complete Second Spacewalk, Smoothly

On July 3, at 10:51 PM (Beijing Time), after approximately 6.5 hours of meticulous work, Shenzhou 18 crew members Ye Guangfu, Li Cong, and Li Guangsu successfully completed their second spacewalk, marking the 16th extravehicular activity (EVA) performed by Chinese astronauts during the space station phase.

At 4:19 PM, astronaut Li Cong opened the hatch of the Wentian laboratory module and embarked on his first-ever spacewalk.

Li Cong then mounted the robotic arm, disassembled the fixing devices, and transferred to the equipment handover point using the arm. Subsequently, astronaut Ye Guangfu handed over the task-related equipment and devices from inside the station. At 5:41 PM, astronaut Ye Guangfu successfully exited the station.

Ye Guangfu then traversed along the station’s exterior to reach the designated worksite, collaborating with Li Cong to install protective devices for the Wentian module’s cables and the Tianhe core module’s pipelines.

Throughout the process, astronaut Li Guangsu remained inside the Tianhe core module, monitoring the robotic arm and providing necessary assistance. This EVA focused on continuing the installation of protective devices to mitigate potential risks posed by the impacts of space debris.

“The purpose of this spacewalk is to enhance the long-term safe and stable operation of the space station by installing protective devices for external equipment, mainly cables and pipelines,” explained Liu Ming, assistant research fellow at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

During the previous spacewalk, the Shenzhou 18 crew primarily installed protective devices for the external cables of the Mengtian experimental module. This mission focused on installing protective devices for the external cables and pipelines of the Wentian experimental module and the Tianhe core module.

“There were more protective devices to install this time,” noted Wu Dawen, deputy director of the China Astronaut Training Center. “As a result, it took longer to travel from the hatch to the designated worksite, but they handled the tasks with ease and precision.”

With the support and coordination of the space station’s robotic arm and ground-based researchers, the crew successfully installed protective devices for the space station’s external pipelines, cables, and key equipment. Li Cong then transferred the robotic arm to the inspection point, conducting visual inspection and photographing the load adapter’s surface using his helmet camera.

“The astronauts completed this spacewalk with great ease, efficiency, and perfection,” remarked Wu Dawen. “This crew is characterized by meticulous thinking and flexibility. They approach their tasks with seriousness and dedication while also maintaining a lively and enthusiastic spirit. They are a crew brimming with youthful vigor and vitality.”

Upon completing all planned EVA tasks, spacewalkers Ye Guangfu and Li Cong safely returned to the Wentian laboratory module, marking the successful conclusion of their spacewalk.

“The China Space Station is truly magnificent and breathtaking,” expressed astronaut Li Cong. “Every time the robotic arm reaches its highest point, even though the sunlight is dazzling, I can’t help but look at it a few extra times. I am genuinely filled with a sense of awe for the greatness of this project. I commend all the space personnel and our great nation. We will continue to work diligently to complete our subsequent tasks, carrying out our mission smoothly from start to finish. See you through the onboard cameras.”

To date, the Shenzhou 18 crew has completed one-third of their “space business trip” and will continue to conduct a wide range of scientific experiments and technical tests in orbit.


EU Mulls Import Duties on Cheap Online Goods from China

As media revealed, the European Union is considering imposing import duties on low-cost goods purchased through cross-border online retail platforms outside the EU. The proposed plan would eliminate the current €150 (approximately $180) duty-free threshold, targeting small-value imports.

According to sources, the primary focus is Chinese cross-border e-commerce platforms like Temu, AliExpress, and Shein. The surge in demand for affordable goods amidst rising inflation has fueled the popularity of these platforms, particularly Shein, which has disrupted the market share of traditional European clothing retailers like H&M and Zara. Amazon is also reportedly planning to launch its own low-cost store.

However, the proposal has faced opposition from some officials concerned about the additional workload it would place on already overburdened customs officers. Furthermore, reaching a consensus among EU member states on the new regulations could prove challenging.


Severe Flooding in Southern China Claims Life, Disrupts Industries

A Chinese village official, Li, was confirmed dead today after sacrificing himself while conducting nighttime inspections of local flood preparedness measures in Yueyang County, Hunan Province. On July 1, a sudden flash flood tragically swept away him and two colleagues who fortunately survived later.

This tragic event occurred amidst severe flooding in southern China. The flooding in Pingjiang County, Yueyang, has been described as the longest-lasting, most intense, and highest-volume rainfall event since records began.

The severe weather has led to widespread flooding in urban areas, residential zones, and industrial parks. The region has seen major local businesses affected, including the closure of the well-known brand “Spicy Prince” food factory, and the related hashtag immediately sparked on social media.

This flooding is part of a larger pattern of extreme weather affecting southern China since the start of the plum rain season. Over 80 national-level meteorological stations have recorded unprecedented rainfall totals for this period.

The Ministry of Water Resources reports that 538 rivers across 21 provinces have experienced above-warning-level floods since the flood season began. Experts attribute the severe southern flooding to factors including global warming and the delayed effects of El Niño.

China’s Ministry of Emergency Management has mobilized over 60,000 emergency response personnel in response to the crisis. These teams are engaged in various rescue and flood control operations. These efforts have resulted in the rescue and relocation of over 2,000 people, the clearing of more than 110 kilometers of roads, and the drainage of over 1.4 million cubic meters of floodwater.

Meteorological departments predict that five major river basins may experience above-warning-level floods in July, suggesting that challenging conditions may persist.

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