BEIJING, Oct 30 – Astronauts in the Shenzhou XVI mission handed over the control of the Tiangong space station to their peers in the newly arrived Shenzhou XVII crew, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
The CMSA said in a brief news release on Sunday that the two crews held a handover ceremony inside the massive orbital outpost earlier today.
The Shenzhou XVI crew — mission commander Major General Jing Haipeng, Colonel Zhu Yangzhu and Professor Gui Haichao — had completed all of their tasks and are scheduled to fly back to Earth on Tuesday, it noted.
The new team — mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo, Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie and Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin — was launched on Thursday morning and arrived at the Tiangong station later that day.
They are scheduled to stay inside the space station for around six months and return to Earth around April.
The Shenzhou XVII is China’s 12th manned spaceflight and the sixth crewed mission to the Tiangong station.
Orbiting about 400 kilometers above the ground, the Tiangong currently consists of three major components: the Tianhe core module and Wentian and Mengtian science lab modules — and is connected with two visiting craft: the Shenzhou XVI and Shenzhou XVII crew ships and the Tianzhou 6 cargo ship.
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