Nearly 13 years after China’s first spacewalk, two Chinese astronauts have made a second foray into space outside the Tiangong space station. Liu Boming was the first to leave the module on Sunday morning and was joined by Tang Hongbo three hours later. Liu described the view outside the module as “stunningly beautiful”. During the spacewalk – one of the most important parts of their mission – they tested next-generation spacesuits, installed equipment to be used on future missions and carried out a number of technical tasks, according to the Chinese space agency. The agency said the crew completed all designated tasks for their spacewalk, which took nearly seven hours, and Liu and Tang went back to the space station. The astronauts are expected to perform another spacewalk in the coming days. The spacewalk also saw the first use of the new spacesuit named Feitian – which means flying – which allows astronauts to spend up to eight hours outside the module, after making technological improvements to the spacesuit design and doubling the length of time it can be used for. The two astronauts were assisted by the space station’s 15 metre-long robotic arm , which has been hailed as the “the most intelligent, complicated” orbital construction system by the space agency. The arm is designed to help the astronauts move through space and save energy, and has the maximum loading capacity of 25 tonnes. Liu was carried to the operation site by the robotic arm while Tang arrived by crawling along the space station. They adjusted the position of one of the panorama cameras installed outside the space station to expand the area that can be viewed. Sunday’s spacewalk saw the pair installing workbenches that will be used in future missions. They also tested a process for returning to the module in the event of emergency. Liu also played a supporting role in China’s first spacewalk in 2008, when Zhai Zhigang spent around 20 minutes outside the spaceship. Liu and Tang along with mission commander Nie Haisheng arrived at the Tiangong space station on June 17 for a three-month mission. Tiangong, which means Heavenly Palace, will become the largest infrastructure built and maintained by a single country in near-Earth orbit and has been touted as a beacon for China’s space programme. Construction work on the space station’s core module has only just started, but it will grow rapidly in the coming months as more modules, cargo and crew arrive. Women astronauts will take part in the follow-up mission and construction is expected to finish by the end of next year. The mission is the latest stage in China’s ambitious plans to be the only country to own and run its own space station and it will rival the International Space Station, which is backed by the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan.