PKU student becomes first Chinese woman to carry out spacewalk |
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PKU student becomes first Chinese woman to carry out spacewalk

facebook twitter linkedin | Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Three Chinese astronauts entered China's space station core module Tianhe, hours after the Shenzhou XIII spaceship was successfully launched on Saturday.

The crew — Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu — are scheduled to live and work in the space station's core module for six months, which will set a new duration record for a Chinese crewed space mission.

Wang has attracted worldwide attention, for she will become the first Chinese woman to carry out a spacewalk.

Wang Yaping [Photo provided to]

Wang is a 2016 Masters Graduate of PKU School of Journalism and Communication, and a current PhD candidate of PKU School of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences.

To celebrate PKU's 120th Anniversary in 2018, Wang was invited as a alumna representative to share her experience as a Pekinger braving the galaxies.

"I hope that more Pekingers can give their attention to spaceflight, dedicate their efforts towards space discovery, and make their mark in the exploration of that vast and mysterious expanse," said Wang.

Wang also holds the mantle of science teacher. In 2013, Wang was part of the crew for Shenzhou-10's space mission, becoming the second Chinese woman to fly to space. The Shenzhou-10 astronauts delivered China's first ever televised video lecture in orbit, beaming down a live science lesson to schoolchildren onboard the Tiangong 1 space module.

Wang is mother to a 5-year-old girl, making this trip a special one. "Whenever my daughter walks past pictures of the 11 astronauts who went to space, she'll always point out from afar: 'That's my mommy!' Though she's too young to understand what being an astronaut entails, she sees my job as a sacred one, and it makes her proud," Wang said.

Wang and her daughter [Photo provided to]

On the official send-off ceremony held at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, her daughter sent her off with cheers. Before her departure, Wang and her daughter had set expectations for each other.

"I hope you can take good care of yourself, your grandma and your grandpa, and study hard," were her words to her five-year-old. In exchange, Wang promised to bring with her a gift from her daughter. Wang was also presented an ambitious task: "She wants me to bring back stars for her and her classmates when I return! She asked me to pick a lot so that she could share with her classmates."

Wang is the second female astronaut selected to the People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps, the second Chinese woman in space and a colonel in the PLA Air Force (PLAAF). "Space doesn't change just because you're a woman. It doesn't lower its thresholds just because women arrive," she said.

Wang is having underwater training. [Photo provided to]

In preparation for this trip, Wang amassed over 6,000 hours of grueling training. This pales in comparison to the decades she has spent on the track, underwater, in deserts, on rotating rigs, and in pressure chambers, racking up the experience needed for her job.

Up in the core module, Wang is expected to offer her second science lesson, and her daughter is awaiting her return with twinkling stars.