Watch China's Shenzhou 16 astronauts clean the Tiangong space station (video)

Escaping to orbit doesn't mean you get to escape from your chores.

China's Shenzhou 16 astronauts have been working hard to keep the Tiangong space station neat and clean.

Mission commander Jing Haipeng and crewmates Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao are seen in footage released by the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) tidying up the station's Tianhe core module, stowing away a series of containers that cluttered the area.

Related: See latest configuration of China's Tiangong space station in stunning new video

A Shenzhou 16 astronaut vacuums on board China's Tiangong space station. (Image credit: CCTV)

The video then shows the crew sorting through the Mengtian experiment module, then giving a deep clean to the Wentian module, including a going-over with a vacuum.

Space stations rely on recycled air, requiring excellent ventilation and mechanisms for scrubbing away carbon dioxide. Keeping this equipment clean is vital to the ongoing safe operation of Tiangong, as well as the International Space Station (ISS). 

Regular cleaning also helps keep potentially dangerous colonies of bacteria under control.

The Shenzhou 16 crew spacecraft launched on May 29. They have been busy conducting a range of experiments and carried out their first spacewalk in July. Gui Haichao, a payload specialist, is notably China's first civilian astronaut. (The others have all been military personnel.) 

The Shenzhou 16 astronauts are nearing the end of their five-month-long mission. They are expected to greet the crew of the yet-to-launch Shenzhou 17 aboard Tiangong and hand over control of the orbital outpost sometime in November. 

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.