Born in Pingyao County of China's northern Shanxi Province in March 1969, Liu joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in 1988. That same year he joined the Communist Party of China (CPC). Liu once served as a squadron leader in an air force division and became a second grade pilot after accumulating 1,000 safe flying hours.
Liu was selected to be a member of China's first astronaut team in January 1998. Holding a master’s degree, he is now a senior colonel and second grade astronaut of the PLA astronaut brigade.
The Shenzhou 9, atop an upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China at 6:37 p.m. June 16, 2012 and returned to Earth around 10 a.m. on June 29. Its crew members are Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang (female).