Madrid, 23 years old (Europe Press)
Along with two other astronauts, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, Chen was sent to the Chinese Space Station’s Tianhe Core Module on June 5 for a six-month stay.
The crew spent more than 170 days in orbit. This is Chen’s second time venturing into space, after his first Shenzhou-11 mission lasted 33 days on Tiangong-2, the predecessor of the space station, in 2016 with cosmonaut Jing Haiping.
Chen was born in 1978 in Henan Province, central China. Xinhua reported that he was recruited into the Chinese astronaut team in May 2010.
Appointed mission commander, Chen has led the Shenzhou-14 crew to complete multiple missions over the past five months, including three spacewalks, a series of science experiments, a live science conference, and numerous in-orbit rendezvous, pairing, and switching operations.
During the mission, the orbiting trio oversaw the arrival of the station’s two laboratory modules, Wentian and Mengtian, and dispatched two cargo ships, Tianzhou-4 and Tianzhou-5. They will also witness the historic moment when China’s space station will be fully completed at the end of this year.
China is ready to send the next manned mission into space after the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft and its carrier rocket were transported to the launch area on November 28. Chen and his team members will take part in the first in-orbit delivery of the Chinese space station crew upon the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 astronauts. The number of crew members will increase to six for a short period before Shenzhou-14 returns to Earth.
The Shenzhou-14 crew is scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in December.