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China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts mark busy 1st month aboard Tiangong space station

China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts entered the Tiangong space station on June 5, 2022. From left to right: Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang.
China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts entered the Tiangong space station on June 5, 2022. From left to right: Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang. (Image credit: CNSA/CCTV+)

China's three Shenzhou 14 astronauts have completed their first month in orbit as they prepare for the arrival of the Chinese space station’s second module.

Astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe launched aboard the Shenzhou 14 spacecraft on June 5 and docked with Tianhe, the core module of the under-construction Tiangong space station, around six hours later.

So far, all is going well for the crew, who have been exercising using treadmills and stationary bikes to reduce the impact of microgravity on their bodies.

Related: The latest news about China's space program

Wu Dawei, deputy chief designer of China's human space program taikonaut (as Chinese astronauts are called) system, described the Shenzhou 14 crew as "a young, lively and rigorous team with good physical, operational and psychological conditions," according to the Chinese state media outlet Xinhua (opens in new tab).

The crew will spend six months in orbit and will oversee the arrival of two new modules, which will complete the T-shaped orbital outpost. The first new module, named Wentian, is expected to launch late this month.

During the first month, the taikonauts have conducted tests on the water, air and microorganisms inside Tianhe. 

They also installed a carbon dioxide reduction system for improving the air aboard the station, tested Feitian spacesuits for future spacewalks, and debugged equipment aboard Tianhe.

The crew will deliver a first live lecture from the Wentian module after its arrival, Xinhua reported (opens in new tab) on Wednesday (July 6). 

The Shenzhou 14 taikonauts will also be involved in the first Chinese space station crew handover when the Shenzhou 15 crew arrives in December.

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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 Space.com 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 (opens in new tab).