Template:Mergeinto Template:Otheruses Template:Infobox NASA The space program of the People's Republic of China (PRC) began in 1956 with the cooperation of the USSR and continued as an indigenous nuclear deterrent program after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960. The Chinese space programme was initiated at the behest of the Central Military Commission for fulfilling national defence needs. The potential military utility of space was the central reason for China embarking on its national space programme since 1956. The programme was aimed at developing China’s aviation, guided missiles, rockets and missile defence needs. Thus, the first products of its space programme were not Satellite Launch Vehicles (SLVs) or satellites, rather they were Ballistic Missiles like the Dongfeng-1 (DF-1), -2, -3, -4 and -5. Of these, the DF-4 and DF-5 became SLVs like the Changzheng-1 (CZ-1)and CZ-2 respectively [1]. Thus,PRC's first satellite, Dongfanghong I (The East Is Red I), was launched only two and a half decades later in 1970, making China the fifth spacefaring nation. The manned space program began in 1968, and China became the third country to put a human in space in 2003.

History and Recent DevelopmentsEdit


The PRC's space program dates to 1956, when Tsien Hsue-Shen, recently arrived from the United States after a protracted emigration battle, proposed and became first director of a ballistic missile program.

The March 1, 1956, Twelve-Year-Plan for Chinese aerospace, also known as Project 581, was the first Chinese satellite project, with the objective of placing a satellite in orbit by 1959 [2].

During the cordial Sino-Soviet relations of the 1950s, the USSR engaged in a cooperative technology transfer program with the PRC under which they trained Chinese students and provided the fledgling program with a sample rocket, but this support was abruptly withdrawn after the 1960 Sino-Soviet split.

The PRC continued the program independently and launched their first rocket, based on the Russian R-2, in late 1960. Development continued through the 1960s and 1970s, with the first launch of the indigenous Dongfeng missile in 1964. The same technology, adapted into the Long March rocket, was used to launch the PRC's first satellite Dong Fang Hong I (The East Is Red I), in 1970, allowing the PRC to join the USSR, United States, France, and Japan as the fifth spacefaring nation. The PRC went on to launch 55 satellites in the Dong Fang Hong series over the following three decades.

Further development of the Long March rocket series allowed the PRC to initiate a commercial launch program in 1985, which has since launched over 30 foreign satellites, primarily for European and Asian interests. The United States government has long been resistant to the use of PRC launch services by American industry due to concerns over technology transfer, and in 2000 announced an official embargo. The PRC has continued to improve their rocket designs, though the next generation Long March 5 appears stalled from lack of funding.

The PRC is a member of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and a signatory to all United Nations treaties and conventions on space.


Initially the space program of the PRC was organized under the People's Liberation Army, particularly the Second Artillery Corps. In the 1990s, however, the PRC reorganized the space program as part of a general reorganization of the defense industry to make it resemble Western defense procurement.

The China National Space Administration, an agency within the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense currently headed by Sun Laiyan, is now responsible for launches. The Long March rocket which is produced by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, and satellites are produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The latter organizations are state-owned enterprises; however, it is the intent of the PRC government that they not actively be state managed and that they behave much as private corporations would in the West.

The space program also has close links with Tsinghua University and Harbin Institute of Technology.

Satellite Launch CentersEdit

The PRC operates 4 Satellite Launch Centers:

The Manned Space ProgramEdit

PRC's manned space program started as early as 1968, when it was founded by Tsien Hsue-Shen of the Space Flight Medical Research Centre. Project 714 aimed to put two taikonauts into space by 1973 with the Shuguang-1 spacecraft. Nineteen PLAAF pilots were selected for this goal on March 1971. The Shuguang-1 spacecraft to be launched with the CZ-2A rocket was designed to carry a crew of two taikonauts. The program was officially cancelled on May 13, 1972 for economic reasons, though the internal politics of the Cultural Revolution likely motivated the closure. A new program was announced in 1978 and abruptly canceled in 1980.

In 1992, authorization and funding was given for Project 921, which was a plan to launch a manned spacecraft. The Shenzhou program had four unmanned test flights. The first one was Shenzhou 1 on November 20, 1999. On January 9, 2001 Shenzhou 2 launched carrying test animals. Shenzhou 3 and Shenzhou 4 were launched in 2002, carrying test dummies. Following these was the successful Shenzhou 5, China's first manned mission in space on October 15, 2003, which carried Yang Liwei in orbit for 21 hours and made China the third nation to launch a human into orbit. Shenzhou 6 followed two years later. At least two more Shenzhou missions, including multiple taikonauts, space walks, and docking, remain in planning. Missions are launched on the Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The PRC initially designed the Shenzhou ships with docking equipment suitable for the International Space Station (ISS) and built its launching platforms in the appropriate latitude for a rendezvous. Following the success of Shenzhou 5, the PRC formally requested to join the ISS, but the United States strongly opposed the plan. The PRC in turn announced its intention to build its own space station. The unofficial website Taikonauts Go suggests that Shenzhou-8 (an unmanned space lab) shenzhou-9 (unmanned) and a manned Shenzhou-10 will be docked in late 2010 to form a primitive space station, much like the soviet unions early Salyut program. The PRC has now turned its diplomatic attention to establishing further joint programs with the European Union and Russia.


In February 2004, the PRC formally started the implementation phase of its unmanned Moon exploration project. According to Sun Laiyan, vice-administrator of the China National Space Administration, the project will involve three phases: orbiting the Moon; landing; and returning samples. The first phase will spend 1.4 billion renminbi (approx. US$170 million) to orbit a satellite around the Moon before 2007. Phase two involves a lander before 2010. Phase three involves collecting lunar soil samples before 2020.

On November 27, 2005, the deputy commander of the manned spaceflight program announced that the PRC planned to complete a space station and a manned mission to the Moon by 2020, assuming funding was approved by the government. Towards that end they intended to perfect space walking and docking by 2012. However, funding for the necessary Chang Zheng 5 series of rockets remains in abeyance.

On December 14, 2005, it was reported "an effort to launch lunar orbiting satellites will be supplanted in 2007 by a program aimed at accomplishing an unmanned lunar landing. A program to return unmanned space vehicles from the moon will begin in 2012 and last for five years, until the manned program gets underway" in 2017, with a manned Moon landing some time after that. [1] In February 2006, China announced that the Shenzhou 7 mission would be delayed from 2007 to 2008 to allow additional development time for the spacesuit for the planned first Chinese spacewalk.

On June 22, 2006, Long Lehao, deputy chief architect of the lunar probe project, laid out a schedule for China's lunar exploration. He set 2024 as the date of China's first moonwalk [2].

Sun Laiyan, administrator of the China National Space Administration, said on July 20, 2006, that China would start deep space exploration focusing on Mars over the next five years, during the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Program period [3].

The first unmanned Mars exploration program should take place between the 2014-2033 period, followed by a manned phase in 2040-2060 [4].

Moreover, in order to make manned flight in deep space toward Mars safer, a space weather forecast system will be completed by 2012 with the Kuafu[5] mission satellites placed at the Lagrangian Point L1 [6].

Chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft Qi Faren has stated in 2006 that "the Chinese manned space program was not aimed at sending tourists into space, but instead at preparing for the exploration of Mars and Saturn safely" [7].


There were two taikonaut trainers selected for Project 921. They trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia.

Only a few taikonauts have been in space:

  • Fei Junlong - Chinese taikonaut (yuhangyuan) detachment January 1998
  • Nie Haisheng - first Chinese taikonaut (yuhangyuan) detachment and back up in Shenzhou 5
  • Yang Liwei - first Chinese taikonaut (yuhangyuan) detachment

The following people trained as taikonauts await their turn:

  • Zhai Zhigang - first Chinese taikonaut (yuhangyuan) detachment and back up in Shenzhou 5
  • Chen Quan - selected in January 1998
  • Deng Qingming - from Jiangxi Province and PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Jing Haipeng - born October 1966 and PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Liu Buoming - born September 1966 and PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Liu Wang - born in Shanxi Province and PLAFF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Pan Zhanchun - PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Zhang Xiaoguan - born in Liaoning Province and PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998
  • Zhao Chuandong - PLAAF pilot; selected in January 1998

As for 2006, at least two other selections of younger taikonauts are being trained.

Goals Edit

PRC's space program has several goals. The China National Space Administration policy white paper lists short term goals as:

  • build a long term earth observation system
  • set up an independent satellite telecommunications network
  • establish an independent satellite navigation and positioning system
  • provide commercial launch services
  • set up a remote sensing system
  • study space science such as microgravity, space materials, life sciences, and astronomy
  • plan for exploration of the moon

Among their stated longer term goals are:

  • improve their standing in the world of space science
  • establish a manned space station.
  • manned missions to the moon
  • establish a manned lunar base.

List of Projects Edit

Satellites and scienceEdit

  • Dong Fang Hong series of satellites
  • Astrophysics research, with the launch of the world's largest Solar Space Telescope in 2008, and a Space Hard X-Ray Modulation Telescope
  • Kuafu mission satellites for space weather forecast, will be completed by 2012
  • Deep Space Tracking Network with the completion of the FAST, the world largest single dish radio antenna of 500 m in Guizhou, and a 3000 Km VLBI radio antenna

Satellite Launch CenterEdit

  • Hainan Spaceport Fourth and southernmost space center, will be upgraded to suit the new CZ-5 Heavy ELV and manned lunar missions

Launch vehiclesEdit

  • Kaituozhe-1, KT-2, KT-2A New all-solid orbital launch vehicles
  • CZ-1D Based on a CZ-1, but with a new N2O4/UDMH second stage
  • CZ-2E(A) Intended for launch of Chinese space station modules
  • CZ-3B(A) More powerful Long March rockets using larger-size liquid propellant strap-on motors
  • CZ-3C Launch vehicle combining CZ-3B core with two boosters from CZ-2E
  • Chang Zheng 5 Second generation ELV with more efficient and non toxic propellents (25 tonnes in LEO)
  • Chang Zheng 6 Second generation Heavy ELV for lunar and deepspace trajectory injection (70 tonnes in LEO)

Space explorationEdit

File:Exploration of the Moon, People's Republic of China.jpg
  • Project 921-1Shenzhou spacecraft
  • Project 921-2 — Chinese Space Lab and Chinese Permanent Space Station short term and then permanent occupation
  • Project 921-3 Space Shuttle — Second generation manned spacecraft (This project appears to have been cancelled)
  • Shenzhou Cargo — unmanned version of the Shenzhou spacecraft to resupply the Chinese Permanent Space Station
  • Chang'e program — unmanned lunar probe (first phase lunar program)
  • Second phase lunar program — first settlements and lunar resources exploitation
  • Third phase lunar program — permanent lunar bases and full scale exploitation
  • Chinese Mars exploration program — first with rover landers then with taikonauts
Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian Space Agency has revealed in September 2006 in RIA Novosti that China was about to sign a contract by the end of 2006 to participate in a Russian project to bring soil back to Earth from Phobos, one of Mars two moons [8]. The mission will also collect samples on Mars, according to Xinhua [9].
  • Deep space exploration — spacefaring through the entire Solar system

See also Edit


  1. See Squadron Leader KK Nair, "Space: The Frontiers of Modern Defence", Knowledge World Publishers, New Delhi. Chapter-5. Pgs 117-134.
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web

External links Edit


Template:National space programmesde:Chinesische Raumfahrt eo:Ĉina kosmoesplorado fr:Programme spatial de la Chine he:תוכנית החלל הסינית ru:Космическая программа Китая sv:Kinas rymdprogram zh:中国载人航天计划

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