China's Shenzhou-14 crew returns home after six months in space station
Updated 10:03, 06-Dec-2022
Cao Qingqing

China's Shenzhou-14 astronauts, or taikonauts, Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, returned to Earth safely on Sunday evening after a six-month mission in the country's orbiting space station.

The re-entry capsule carrying the trio touched down at the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 8:09 p.m. Beijing Time after a journey of about nine hours. 

China declared the Shenzhou-14 mission a complete success after the medical team waiting on site confirmed that all three taikonauts were in good health.

Click here for CGTN's livestream of Shenzhou-14's journey home


Chen, the commander of the mission, was the first to come out of the capsule. "I am honored to witness the formation of our space station's basic configuration. I feel so proud of my country," he said.

He is also the first Chinese person to have stayed in orbit for more than 200 days over multiple missions, setting a national record.


He was followed by Liu, China's first female astronaut. She said it was an unforgettable experience living in the space station, but she felt good to return to the embrace of the motherland, adding that there's always more to expect from China's space program. 


Cai, who had just concluded his first spaceflight, exited last from the capsule. He said he enjoyed the most spectacular views of the universe and hoped to return to the "space home" again.


Busiest crew

The Shenzhou-14 crew, sent into space on June 5, is dubbed the "busiest crew" in China's manned space program.

When they arrived in orbit, the space station only had one module – the Tianhe core module.

During their six-month stay, the trio welcomed the Wentian lab module in July and Mengtian lab module in October, witnessing the basic T-shaped three-module "space home" taking shape.

The T-shaped structure of China's space station. /CMSA
The T-shaped structure of China's space station. /CMSA

The T-shaped structure of China's space station. /CMSA

They conducted three extravehicular activities (EVAs), and set up an out-of-cabin "bridge" that links the three modules of the space station during the last spacewalk.

The crew also welcomed the Tianzhou-5 cargo vessel and the Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship in orbit for the first time, and conducted China's first-ever in-orbit crew rotation with the Shenzhou-15 taikonauts.

The trio also gave a live science class from the Wentian lab module for the first time.

"The three taikonauts did very well during the mission, showing their extraordinary mental and physical qualities. I think these well-trained taikonauts set a good example," said Huang Weifen, chief designer of the taikonaut system of China's manned space program.

Read more: Significant moments of Shenzhou-14, China's 'busiest' space mission

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