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Chinese Space Program

One could say that the Space Age was born in China. When the Chinese army battled the Mongol horde of Ogotai Khan in the thirteenth century, the Chinese shot self-propelled "fire arrows" at the hordesmen. Those "fire arrows" were the first solid-fuelled rockets.

Seven centuries later, in 1970, China launched its first satellite, the Dong Fang Hong I. This achievement was the result of years of hard work in building sounding rockets and missiles, aided by infusions of technical information from both America and the Soviet Union. Qian Xuesen, one of JPL's founders, was deported back to China shortly after the end of the Second World War after he was accused of being a Communist sympathizer. Mao Zedong put Qian in charge of a technical institute along the same lines as Caltech. The Chinese also received substantial assistance from Soviet experts during the Fifties and Sixties.

Today, China is one of the major players in the space arena. Chinese communication satellites and weather satellites provide China and other customers with their valuable services. China joined America and Russia in the exclusive club of countries that have achieved human spaceflight in the autumn of 2003. The Chinese launched the first module of their space station, the Tiangong 1, in the autumn of 2011. In 2007, a Chinese space probe, Chang'e I, was sent to orbit the Moon. A second probe, Chang'e II, was launched in the autumn of 2010. It followed up on Chang'e I's lunar exploration. After Chang'e II accomplished its objectives around the Moon, the probe was rerouted to study the environment of the second Sun-Earth Lagrangian point, also called L2, which is the site of several important scientific satellites. China also contributed to the ongoing problem of space debris in the winter of 2007, when a Chinese antisatellite weapon demolished a Chinese weather satellite, Fengyun-IC, creating a huge cloud of hundreds of fragments that will clog the spaceways for many years.

If you are a NASA HQ employee, please consider subscribing to our news alert for Asian affairs to get the latest news on this dynamic space program. All items are available at the Headquarters Library, except as noted. NASA Headquarters employees and contractors: Call x0168 or email Library@hq.nasa.gov for information on borrowing or in-library use of any of these items. Members of the public: Contact your local library for the availability of these items. NASA Headquarters employees can request additional materials or research on this topic. The Library welcomes your comments or suggestions about this webpage.

Contents: Books E-books Articles and Reports Internet Resources


Guo, Huadong, and Ji Wu (eds.). Space Science and Technology in China: A Roadmap to 2050. Beijing, China: Science Press; [Heidelberg, New York]: Springer, 2010.
TL796.5 .C6 C455 2010 BOOKSTACKS
Harvey, Brian. The Chinese Space Programme: From Conception to Manned Spaceflight. New York: Wiley, 2004.
TL789.8 .C55 H38 2004 BOOKSTACKS
Kulacki, Gregory Philip, and Jeffrey G. Lewis. A Place for One's Mat: China's Space Program, 1956-2003. Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009.
TL796.5 .C6 K853 2009 BOOKSTACKS
Also available through the website of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Podvig, Pavel Leonardovich, and Hui Zhang. Russian and Chinese Responses to U.S. Military Plans in Space. Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2008.
UG1520 .P63 2008 BOOKSTACKS
Also available through the website of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Seedhouse, Erik. The New Space Race: China vs. the United States. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing, 2010.
TL789.8 .C45 S45 2010 BOOKSTACKS


The e-books listed below are available to NASA civil servants and contractors through the Books 24x7 service of SATERN.
Alon, Ilan. Chinese Culture, Organizational Behavior, and International Business Management. Praeger Publishers, 2003.
Bergsten, C. Fred, et al. China: The Balance Sheet: What the World Needs to Know Now About the Emerging Superpower. Public Affairs, 2006.
Chow, Gregory C. Knowing China. World Scientific Publishing Co, 2004.
De Burgh, Hugo. China: Friend or Foe?. Icon Books Ltd., 2006.
Saxon, Mike. An American’s Guide to Doing Business in China. Adams Media, 2007.
The e-books listed below are available to the general public through the National Academies Press.
Merrill, Stephen, David Taylor, and Robert Poole. The Dragon and the Elephant: Understanding the Development of Innovation Capacity in China and India: Summary of a Conference, 2010.
Wessner, Charles W. Building the 21st Century: U.S. China Cooperation on Science, Technology, and Innovations, 2011.

Articles and Reports

Besha, Patrick. "Policy making in China’s space program: A history and analysis of the Chang’e lunar orbiter project", Space Policy, vol. XXVI, no. 4 (Nov. 2010), p. 214-221.
Chambers, Rob W. China's Space Program: A New Tool for PRC "Soft Power" in International Relations?. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, March 2009.
(ADA497039: (March 2009) DTIC)
Hansen, James R. "The Great Leap Upward: China's Human Spaceflight Program and Chinese National Identity", in: Remembering the Space Age: Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Conference, NASA-SP-2008-4703, NASA Headquarters, Office of External relations, History Division, Washington, DC, 2008.
(20090013347: (April 2009) NTRS)
These conference proceedings are also available in hardcopy in the NASA HQ library.
Hayes, Tracey L. Proposal for a Cooperative Space Strategy with China. National Defense University, Norfolk, VA, April 2009.
(ADA530117: (April 2009) DTIC)
Johnson-Freese, Joan. "The Emerging China-EU Space Partnership: A Geo-Technological Balancer." Space Policy, vol. XXII, no. 1 (Feb. 2006), p. 12-22.
Lowman, Paul D., Jr., and David E. Smith. "A New Sputnik Surprise?" Space Times, Nov.-Dec. 2001. p. 15-20.
(20020000779: (May 2009) NTRS)
Oh, Paul S. Assessing Chinese Intentions for the Military Use of the Space Domain. United States Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, KS, May 2011.
Available online through the Combined Arms Research Library.
Perfilyev, Nikita. "The Sino-Russian Space Entente", Astropolitics, vol. VIII, no. 1 (July 2010), p. 19-34.
Quigley, Erik N. Geo-Political Considerations to China's Rise in Space Power. Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, April 2009.
(ADA539644: (April 2009) DTIC)
Sadeh, Eligar. "Report: United States-China Space Dialogue Project", Astropolitics, vol. VIII, no. 1 (July 2010), p. 7-18.

Internet Resources

Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. Sept. 2011 [Oct. 5, 2011].
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Sept. 2011 [Oct. 5, 2011].
Chinese National Space Administration. Nov. 2009 [Oct. 5, 2011].
Chinese Society of Astronautics. 2009 [Oct. 5, 2011].

Last Updated: Oct. 2011