An astronaut will spacewalk outside the capsule on the afternoon of September 27, Gu Yidong, the commander-in-chief and chief designer of the spacecraft application system of China's manned space program, explained to the media on September 23.
Technicians help the Shenzhou VII spacewhip dock with the Long-March II-F rocket at an assembly plant in Jiuquan, Gansu Province. [Xinhua]
Earlier on September 23, several news portal websites reported that a Shenzhou VII astronaut would spacewalk at 16:30 – the day after launch. They said if Shenzhou VII was launched at 21:10 on September 25, the astronaut would leave the capsule at 16:30 on September 26.
However, Gu corrected the reports, explaining that the spacewalk would begin on the day after orbit is achieved. If the launch was on September 25, the spacecraft would enter orbit on 26, and the astronaut would spacewalk on the afternoon of 27.
Experts said the spacecraft would climb to an altitude of 300 km and then into outer space. Though the astronaut would be protected by the special seat and garment, he would need a certain period of time to adjust to the environment. He might experience nausea, vomiting or other discomfort if he left the capsule too early.
Six astronauts – the three confirmed Shenzhou VII team members Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming, and Jing Haipeng, plus their back-ups – moved to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gansu Province on September 21.
One of the three astronauts onboard Shenzhou VII will step out of the capsule and conduct a historic space walk that will be telecast live.