China’s Shenzhou-15 crew carried out their third spacewalk late last week. The Thursday set of spacewalks had astronauts Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu work outside the Tiangong space facility, with Deng Qingming supporting his crew mates from inside the space station.
The spacewalking twosome returned safely to the Wentian lab module.
Meanwhile, the crew members for the Shenzhou-16 and the Shenzhou-17 piloted missions have been selected and are now undergoing training.
Returning in June
The orbiting Shenzhou-15 crew will return to Earth in June, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). The three-man crew has been living in orbit for four months since they docked with the space station on Nov. 30, 2022.
The Shenzhou-15 mission is completing the last stages of the space station’s construction and starting the first stage of its long-term goals and missions.
“The astronauts recently completed successful in-orbit tests for a free-piston Stirling thermoelectric converter with the comprehensive technical indicators such as the thermoelectric conversion efficiency reaching an advanced international level,” according to a China Central Television (CCTV) report.
“The Stirling thermoelectric converter is a new technology in spacecraft power supply and can efficiently convert thermal energy into electric energy, thus reducing a spacecraft’s dependence on solar energy,” adds CCTV. “The technology has broad application prospects for future human lunar and deep space exploration missions.”
The Stirling power converters, according to a CCTV report, were developed by Lanzhou Institute of Physics of China Academy of Space Technology, and were installed in the equipment cabinet for basic tests in the Mengtian lab module of China’s space station. Before the successful test, three in-orbit experiments have been carried out in the lab module.
“During the test, the device ran stably throughout the whole process and produced better-than-expected performance indicators, with its thermoelectric conversion efficiency reaching an advanced international level under the same isothermal ratio,” CCTV reports.
The Stirling thermoelectric converter can efficiently convert thermal energy into electric energy, thus reducing a spacecraft’s dependence on solar energy.
In the offing, China will launch three further missions bound for the space station this year, including visits by the cargo craft Tianzhou-6 and the crew-carrying Shenzhou-16 and Shenzhou-17 spaceships.
The Tianzhou-6 supply ship has been transported to the Wenchang launch site in the southern province of Hainan for its scheduled launch in May.
Go to this CCTV video showing the latest spacewalk at: