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Watch China's Shenzhou 13 astronauts return to Earth from space station tonight

Update for April 16: China's Shenzhou 13 astronauts have landed safely and are now back in Beijing. Read our full story for details, video and more photos.


China's first astronaut crew to spend a record-setting six months aboard the country's new space station returns to Earth tonight and you can watch it live online. 

The three-person crew of China's Shenzhou 13 mission to the Tiangong space station will land tonight (April 15) during a four-hour window that opens at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 April 16 GMT) with an expected landing near Dongfeng in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia. You can watch the video in the window (opens in new tab) above, courtesy of China's state-run CCTV news agency.

Returning home on the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft will be mission commander Zhai Zhigang and crewmates Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu. Shenzhou 13 undocked from the station today at 12:44 p.m. EDT (1644 GMT), according an update (opens in new tab) from the China Manned Space Engineering branch of the China National Space Administration

Related: The latest news about China's space program

China's Shenzhou 13 astronauts give thumb's up signs as they prepare to return to Earth from the Tiangong space station core module Tianhe in April 2022. They are (from left): Wang Yaping; commander Zhai Zhigang; and Ye Guangfu. (Image credit: CMSE)

Zhai and Wang are veteran astronauts, while Ye is on his first spaceflight. The trio launched to the Tiangong station's core module, called Tianhe, on Oct. 15 and will have spent 183 days in space by the end of their flight. 

The Shenzhou 13 mission is China's longest-ever trip to the Tiangong space station (the Shenzhou 12 mission lasted 92 days), with Wang being the first woman visit the orbiting lab. Wang is also China's first woman to perform a spacewalk, a feat she achieved last November as she and Zhai worked outside. 

During their mission, the Shenzhou 13 crew performed docking tests and two spacewalks to outfit the new space station. They also participated in more than 20 science experiments on a variety of subjects, including life sciences and the effects of prolonged spaceflight on the human body. 

The crew also delivered two science lectures to students on Earth and were also China's first astronauts to celebrate the Lunar New Year in space. 

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.