Zhai Zhigang

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Zhai Zhigang

Zhai Zhigang (翟志刚) is a Chinese astronaut who launched the country’s first space walk on Sept. 27, 2008.

Zhai, along with Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, was sent up to the space by theShenzhou 7 spacecraft launched by a Long March 2F (CZ-2F) rocket on Sept. 25, 2008, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The three-day space mission was highlighted by a 22-minute space walk conducted by Zhai in a Chinese-made Feitian (which means “flying to the sky”) space suit on Sept. 27. Zhai wandered around the orbital module and collected experiment samples while attached to cables tied to the module’s handrails, which limited the scope of his space walk. Liu remained in the airlock in the orbital module to provide help if necessary, though he did conduct a short EVA to hand Zhai a Chinese flag. Jing remained in the re-entry module to monitor the general situation of the spacecraft.

Shenzhou 7 returned on Sept. 28 when the craft landed safely in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia.

Personal: Born in October 1966, in Longjiang County, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, undergraduate, double Bachelor's degrees.

Astronaut Career: With 950 hours of flying time logged, Zhai was selected to train for the Shenzhou astronaut program in 1996 and was chosen in the first group of fourteen in January, 1998.

He was one of the three astronauts who were part of the final group to train for Shenzhou 5, the country's first manned space shuttle mission. Zhai was also chosen as one of the six astronauts in the final training for Shenzhou 6 in June, 2005.