China Space Station: First-ever in-orbit crew rotation completed

The three astronauts on China's Shenzhou-15 mission conducted the country's first-ever in-orbit rotation with the Shenzhou-14 astronaut trio on Friday, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

The Shenzhou-15 crew on Wednesday entered China's space station and met the Shenzhou-14 crew, who were sent to the space station in June, a historic gathering that increased the manpower in the in-orbit space lab to six for the first time.

China's space station has entered an era of long-term manned residence.

The Shenzhou-15 and Shenzhou-14 crews take a group photo with their thumbs up after a historic gathering in space, November 30, 2022. /CFP

The CMSA said the Shenzhou-14 crew had completed all the assigned tasks and would return to Earth on Sunday. The agency also said earlier that the search and rescue team on the ground completed a joint rehearsal on Thursday night.

The return capsule carrying the three taikonauts will touch down at the Dongfeng landing site in north China, CGTN reported earlier.

Various systems at the landing site, including the helicopter team, the airlift team and the ground team, have completed preparations and are ready for the return of the Shenzhou-14 crew.