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BEIJING, China, Dec 22 — Shenzhou XVII crew members conducted their first spacewalk on Thursday, completing a host of tasks outside the Tiangong space station, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The agency said in a news release that mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo and crew member Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie returned to the Wentian science module at 9:35 pm after floating seven-and-a-half hours outside the colossal orbital station. The third crew member, Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin, stayed inside Tiangong to provide support, it said.

It was the 14th spacewalk conducted by Chinese astronauts.

During the operation, Tang Hongbo and Tang Shengjie fulfilled preset tasks such as an experimental repair operation on the Tianhe core module’s solar wings, according to the agency.

This spacewalk was the second for Tang Hongbo, who is also the first person to return to the Tiangong space station.

Youngest Chinese astronaut

It also made Tang Shengjie, now 34, the youngest Chinese astronaut with spacewalk experience, the release said.

The agency said there are a lot of science and technology assignments for the Shenzhou XVII crew to perform in coming months, adding that they are scheduled to carry out several spacewalks during the remaining days of their stay in orbit.

The astronauts, who are the sixth group of Tiangong inhabitants, arrived at the colossal flying outpost on Oct 26 to take over from their Shenzhou XVI peers.

Since their arrival, the astronauts have examined and maintained equipment, tested extravehicular suits and made preparations for their first spacewalk. They have also carried out exercises on manipulation of robotic arms, emergency evacuation and medical response, as well as conducted a host of science and technology tasks, according to the agency.

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Orbiting about 400 kilometers above Earth, Tiangong currently consists of three major components — the Tianhe core module and the Wentian and Mengtian science lab modules — and is connected with two visiting craft, the Shenzhou XVII crew ship and the Tianzhou 6 cargo ship.

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