Astronauts complete first spacewalk at China's new Tiangong station
"The safe return of astronauts Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo to the Tianhe core module marks the complete success of the first spacewalk in our country's space station construction," the space agency said.
Their tasks involved elevating a panoramic camera outside the Tianhe core module, as well as testing the station's robotic arm which will be used to transfer future modules around the station, state media said.
The astronauts installed foot stops on the robotic arm and, with its support, carried out other assembly work, added the space agency.
In a video clip of Liu leaving the cabin, he exclaimed: "Wow, it's too beautiful out here."
Liu and Tang were later shown opening the hatch and exiting the module separately, wearing newly developed suits said to weigh some 130 kilograms.
They were supported from inside the station by the mission commander Nie Haisheng, a decorated air force pilot who is on his third space mission.
This was the first of two spacewalks planned for the mission, both expected to last six or seven hours.
It was also the first time since 2008 that Chinese astronauts went outside their spacecraft. Back then, Zhai Zhigang made China the third country to complete a spacewalk after the Soviet Union and the United States.
This is China's first crewed mission in nearly five years, and a matter of huge prestige as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party this month with a massive propaganda campaign.
To prepare, the crew underwent more than 6,000 hours of training.
The Chinese space agency is planning a total of 11 launches through to the end of next year, including three more crewed missions. They will deliver two lab modules to expand the station, along with supplies and astronauts.
One crew member was shown eating with chopsticks, while another did a handstand and somersault after mealtime.
One user wrote: "How much I'm moved by each step of achievement is beyond words."
China's ambition to build an orbiting outpost of its own was fuelled in part by a US ban on its astronauts on the International Space Station, a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.
The ISS is due for retirement after 2024, although NASA has said it could potentially remain functional beyond 2028.