Milestones in China’s Quest for Space
Tsien Hsue-Shen (Qian Xuesen), the father of modern China’s space program, deport-
ed from the United States. Tsien, who came to America in 1935, helped found the
U.S. space program and establish the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 1950, accused
of being a Communist, he was placed under house arrest for almost five years. China
obtained Tsien’s release during Korean War prisoner exchange discussions.
Tsien negotiates agreement between China and Soviet Union to exchange rocket
and nuclear technology. In 1958, the Soviets deliver two of their R-2 missiles to
China. The relationship ends in 1960.
In September, China launches one of the Soviet R-2 missiles using domestically produced pro-
pellant. On November 5, they launch the DF-1, a homegrown variation of the R-2.
China begins work on the Shuguang 1 (Dawn 1), human spaceflight program. A two-man
spacecraft akin to NASA’s Gemini program, its first launch was scheduled for 1973.
Tsien establishes the Space Flight Medical Research Center to prepare for manned space-
On November 16, China launches the first in its series of domestically designed and built Long March three-
stage boosters, Changzheng-1.
On April 24, China launches first satellite, DFH-1. The spacecraft transmits the anthem
Dong Fang Hong (The East is Red) during its 15-day mission.
On March 3, China launches the Shi Jian 1 telecommunications satellite.
In November, China attempts to launch the Recoverable Test Satellite, or Fanhui Shei Weixing (FSW). The
launch is a failure, but between 1975 and 1987 China successfully launches nine FSW orbital missions.
China announces both the Tsien Spaceplane manned program and a proposed “Skylab”-type space station.
Both programs are postponed in 1980 as Chinese government devotes attention and resources to economic
U.S. President Ronald Reagan
offers to fly a Chinese astronaut
aboard the space shuttle. China
declines the of