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China Joins Spacewalking Ranks

The New York Times reported that another milestone in China's space program was met Saturday afternoon when a Chinese astronaut orbiting the earth performed the nation's first spacewalk.
Zhai Zhigang pulled himself out of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft around 4:40 p.m. Beijing time, attached himself to a safety cords and a handrail, and waved to the multitudes who were watching the country's third space mission with an astronaut on a live broadcast.
“I am here greeting the Chinese people and the people of the world,? Mr. Zhai said, waving to a camera attached to the module.
The mission was part of China's plan to create a space station by 2020 and eventually land on the moon.
The Chinese government provides extensive media coverage to its space missions with astronauts. This achievement was another step towards the country's establishment as an economic and technological superpower.
President Hu Jintao was in Beijing's space command center on Saturday.
Zhai also waved a Chinese flag once he was fully out of the module and safely attached to it, causing cheers from viewers at the command center, the article said.
Liu Boming, another astronaut, became the second Chinese astronaut to touch space when he briefly stuck his head and part of his body out of the craft at one point during the mission. The third astronaut, Jing Haipeng, stayed behind in the re-entry module, which will take them back to earth should an emergency arise.
Two hours later, the team released a tiny monitoring satellite.
This was China's third manned space mission in five years. Prior to the occasion, only space programs in the United States and the Soviet Union, and later Russia, had sent humans into space, though astronauts from other countries have participated in some of those missions.