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CHINA SPACE PROGRAM: TIMELINE & BRIEF HISTORY
Yuri Gagarin Alan Shephard Yang Liwei

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space For Us All:
Why The USA Should Let China Into The International Space Station
 
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Cosmonaut
Name: Yuri Gagarin
Country: Soviet Union
Profession: Figher Pilot
Space Flight: April 12, 1961
Orbits: 1
Duration: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Astronaut
Name: Alan Shephard
Country: USA
Profession: Fighter Pilot
Space Flight: May 5, 1961
Orbits: 0 (sub-orbit)
Duration: 15 minutes
Taikonaut
Name: Yang Liwei
Country: China
Profession: Fighter Pilot
Space Flight: October 15, 2003
Orbits: 14
Duration: 21 hours

A TIMELINE and BRIEF HISTORY of China's Space Program

1935
Qian Xuesen (usually printed Tsien Hsue-Shen) leaves Shanghai for graduate studies at MIT and later, at the urging of renowned rocket scientist Theodor Von Karman, himself only recently arrived in the USA from Hungary, continuing studies and research at Cal Tech. Not long afterward, Von Karmen and his collegues, including Qian, founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

1945
Qian Xuesen and Von Karmen went to Germany at the end of World War II and helped coordinate "Operation Paperclip" that brought the Nazi rocket scientists, particularly the famous Werner Von Braun, to the United States. Von Braun and his proteges had surrendered to American troops in advance of the Russian front. The Russians, however, "inherited" the production crews of the Nazi rocket and aerospace industries. The Nazi regime in Germany had by far the most advanced technology. Many of Qian's theories were tested and proven by the Nazi scientists. Qian assimililated much of the Nazi expertise and quickly became the foremost theoritician in rocket and jet propulsion in the USA.

1950
Both the USA and the Soviet Union were actively experimenting with modified Nazi V-2 rocket designs with many successful launches. By 1950 the USA had established what would become the Cape Kennedy space center in Florida. At the same time, the USA and China entered a long period of bitterness over the collapse of the USA backed regime headed by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and the victory of the Communist Party in China. A sudden and still little-understood chain of events led to the Korean War, the creation of a protectorate for the failed Chiang government, and an anti-communist hysteria that would ultimately engulf the USA. A victim of this unhappy period was Qian Xuesen who became a virtual prisoner after he was accused of being a communist conspirator.

1955
Qian Xuesen is deported to the People's Republic of China. He is welcomed as a hero and quickly put in charge of China's rocket programs.

1957
The Soviet Union launched Sputnik and the space race was on in earnest.

1958
China sets up the Jiuquan Space Center in remote western Gansu province. In the USA the Jupiter-C rocket, brainchild of Werner Von Braun (see above), successfully launches the first American satellite into orbit. Not long afterwards NASA is established.

1960s
The Russians shock the world by placing the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin. The USA, quietly (the name of the first Astronaut was kept secret until leaked by the press) but quickly responded a month later when Alan Shephard was launched into a sub-orbit. The following year, John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the globe on February 20, 1962. The space race between the Soviet Union and USA culminated in 1969 with the fantastic achievement of the USA landing men on the moon, earth's natural satellite. During this time, France and Japan also began space programs, both nations launching satellites. China's space program also made enormous advances during this period but suffered due to the tremendous political and economic uncertainties during the Mao dictatorship.

1966
China achieved guided missiles (the first American guided missile was launched in 1946)

1970
Successful launch of China's first satellite, the Dong Fang Hong I. It was heavier than other first satellites launched by other countries.

1975
China's first recoverable satellite is successfully launched.

1984
China perfects geo-stationary communications satellites.

1990
China enters the lucrative international commercial satellite launching business with the launch of the Asiasat-I communications satellite.

1992
The CZ-2E launch begins the production in China of bigger, more powerful rockets capable of launching manned space flight. The start of "Project 921" the pseudonym for China's manned space exploration program.

1997
Successful development and deployment of large-capacity communications satellites.

1999
Space flight of Shenzhou, the first of China's series of unmanned experimental spacecraft.

2003
After years of careful planning and testing China became only the third nation to launch a human in space flight, Yang Liwei! On a crisp autumn morning on October 15 under clear blue skies in the Gobi Desert, the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft was lifted by an enormous CZ-2F (or Long March) rocket through the atmosphere and into orbit around Earth.

2005
China launches Shenzhen 6 into orbit with two taikonauts for a multi-day experimental mission.

The Future
There are big plans ahead including serious talk of a space station.


© 2003-2005 Ben Calmes for Sinomania!

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