Even in space, afternoon naps are all in a day’s work for the astronauts working on China’s new space station. New footage released on Wednesday also showed the three men – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, having meals as boxes floated around them.
The video documented their first 24 hours aboard the Tianhe module, where they will stay for three months. It is China’s first crewed space mission in nearly five years, and will be its longest to date.
According to a news clip that aired on China’s national broadcaster Central China Television, the astronauts start the day by communicating with ground control at 08:00 and do not finish work until about 21:00, when they give an update of their progress.
Every week, the men will get a day off so as to maintain “good spirits”, said the broadcaster. Also on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to the astronauts in a five-minute call, where he thanked them for their work.
“You will spend three months in space and, while in space, your work and your life there will be in the hearts of the Chinese public,” he said, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.
On this mission, the primary objective for Commander Nie and his team is to bring the 22.5-tonne Tianhe module into service. It is another demonstration of China’s growing confidence and capability in the space domain.
In the past six months, the country has returned rock and soil samples to Earth from the surface of the Moon, and landed a six-wheeled robot on Mars – both highly complex and challenging endeavours.
China has in recent years made no secret of its space ambitions, it has poured significant funding into its space efforts. And in 2019 became the first country to send an un-crewed rover to the far side of the Moon.