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UPDATED: September 27, 2008  
Chinese Taikonaut Completes Space Walk

Taikonaut Zhai Zhigang conducts China's maiden spacewalk on September 27, 2008

Chinese taikonaut Zhai Zhigang slipped out of the orbital module of Shenzhou 7 Saturday afternoon, starting China's first spacewalk or extravehicular activity (EVA) in the outer space.

Donning a 4-million-U.S.dollar homemade Feitian space suit, Zhai waved to the camera mounted on the service module after pulling himself out of the capsule in a head-out-first position at 4:43 p.m. (0843 GMT), video monitor at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) showed.

"The Shenzhou 7 is now outside the spacecraft. I feel well. I am here greeting the Chinese people and people of the whole world," the 42-year-old taikonaut reported to the ground control in Beijing.

Minutes after Zhai was outside the capsule, teammate Liu Boming emerged from the orbital module hatch and handed Zhai a Chinese national flag. Zhai waved the flag to the camera.

Video monitor at the ground control showed Zhai then slowly moved towards a test sample of solid lubricant placed outside the orbital module. He took the sample and handed it over to Liu.

After the handover, Zhai, who dreamed of flying into space when he was an impoverished teenager, started the core part of the space adventure, spacewalk.

The taikonaut, tethered to the spacecraft with two safety wires and a long electric "cord" providing oxygen and communications, moved slowly along a set of handrails around the orbital module.

Zhai "walked step by step" by shifting the wire hooks connecting him and the spacecraft.

The Shenzhou-7 spacecraft took off from northwest China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 9:10 p.m. on Thursday, and is scheduled to land on the Inner Mongolia steppe on Sunday.

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2008)

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