China is testing out its new Wentian space station module, including putting a new robotic arm through its paces.
The new module features a range of science experiment cabinets, extra astronaut sleeping quarters and backup systems for the space station, but also carries with it a small robotic arm, measuring about 19.6 feet (six meters).
A video released by China’s human spaceflight agency, CMSA, shows the arm disengaging from its base, crawling along the surface of the space station and docking with one of the adapters outside Tiangong, demonstrating its capabilities and functional status.
The footage includes stunning views of oceans and clouds far below on Earth, with lighting conditions changing as the space station orbits the planet.
Wentian’s robotic arm will be used for supporting the extravehicular activities conducted by astronauts and maintaining and repairing the exterior of the space station.
The arm can operate independently or work together with an existing large, 33-foot-long (10 m) robotic arm on the Tianhe core module.