Chinese Space Program


Chinese Space Program features history, info on launch vehicles, spacecraft and various space projects. China’s rocketry program began in the 1950s. The first Chinese satellite, Dongfanghong-1 (The East is Red) was launched into orbit in 1970. China became the fifth country to launch a satellite into space.

Chinese Space Programme picture

The manned space program was inaugurated in 1992 (Project 921). The first Chinese Astronaut (Taikonaut) was Yang Liwei. He was launched on Shenzhou 5 on October 15, 2003. China was the third nation capable of putting a human in space on its own, after Soviets and the U.S.   One of the goals of China’s manned space program is to build a permanent space station.

China National Space Administration

China National Space Administration is China’s space agency and its headquarters are located in Haidian District, Beijing. It was created in 1993.

Chinese Spacecraft:

Chinese Spacecraft is launched on a Long March 2F booster from Jiuquan.

There are three major space launch bases in China: Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang.

Chang’e Moon

Chang’e is the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. Chang’e name means Chinese goddess of the Moon.

Chang’e 1 lunar orbiter was the first spacecraft of the program. It was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on 24 October 2007.

Chang’e 2 was the second orbit and was launched on 1 October 2010.

Chang’e 3 Moon lander and China’s first lunar rover. It was launched on 1 December 2013 and successfully soft-landed on the Moon on 14 December 2013.

Chang’e 4 was first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon. It consisted of a lander and a rover called Yutu-2. It landed in Von Kármán crater within the South Pole-Aitken basin. 

Chang’e 5 is China’s first moon sample return mission. It may be launched in November 2020

Chang’e 6 is a planned second sample return mission. It might to be launched in 2023.

Yinghuo-1 was a Chinese Mars-exploration space probe, intended to be the first Chinese spacecraft to explore Mars. I

Manned History Missions

Shenzhou 5: China’s first man in space was Yang Liwei. Launch on October 15, 2003

Shenzhou 6 launched the second manned mission on October 12, 2005 with two Taikonauts: Nie Haisheng and Fei Junlong.

Shenzhou 7 was the third human spaceflight mission and was launched 25 September 2008. On this mission Chinese Taikonauts conducted the first Chinese Space Walk.

* First Chinese Moon robotic spacecraft was called Chang’e 1 and was launched in 2007.

* Shenzhou 8: Two spacecraft in orbit for the first time ever docked when Shenzhou 8 docked with Tiangong-1 module. Shenzhou 8 was launched on October 31, 2011 on a Long March 2F rocket.

Shenzhou-9 featured first Chinese woman in orbit 

Shenzhou-10 features second Chinese woman in space

* Shenzhou 11: First and only crewed docking with Tiangong-2 space laboratory. Launched 17 October 2016.

* Shenzhou 12: Scheduled to visit Tianhe-1 in 2021 to begin construction of the Chinese Space Station.


Yinghuo-1 was intended to be the first Chinese spacecraft to orbit Mars. It was launched in along with Russia’s Phobos Grunt on 8 November 2011. Unfortunately it failed to leave Earth orbit.

Tianwen-1:  first independent mission to Mars. It will attempt to land its first Mars rover on Mars to explore and conduct experiments. It was launched 23 July 2020 and will arrive at the Red Planet in February 2021.

Space Station

* On 26 April 2011 Chinese authorities unveiled plans to build a space station and develop a cargo spaceship as part of its manned space program. The Space Station will weigh 60-ton. This is smaller compared to the International Space Station (419 tons: 1998-present) and Russia’s Mir Space Station (137 tons: 1986 – 2001).

* Tiangong 1, which means ‘Heavenly Palace’ in Chinese, consisted on one Chinese laboratory module for as space station. It was China’s first space station. It was on 29 September 2011. The module weighed 8.5 ton. It was visited by Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10.  It is part of Project 921-2.

* Tiangong 2 is china’s second space lab and was launched on 15 September 2016. It will be larger than Tiangong 1. It has been visited by Shenzhou 11. Tiangong 3 maybe launched in 2018.

* Tianzhou, which means ‘Heavenly Ship’ is China’s first automated cargo spacecraft and will supply Tiangong 2. It will be launched on the Long March 7 from Wenchang. First flight in 2017.

* Kuaizhou-1 – solid-fuelled rocket.  First flight of Kuaizhou-1 rocket was on 25 September 2013 from Jiuquan. First commercial launch of Kuaizhou 1A was on January 9, 2017.

China’s future plans for its space program. 

Shenzhou spaceships maybe used in future missions to circumlunar space stations and deep space missions.

Long March 9 – is developing Moon Rocket, which maybe used in the future to launch manned missions beyond Earth orbit.

In the future they may also launch a Mars Sample Return Mission.

There are currently no plans to send spacecraft beyond Mars to the outer solar system.

China Space Program Links

In English:

In Chinese Only:

Space Books

  • China’s Space Program – From Conception to Manned Spaceflight (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration) by Brian Harvey (Jul 15, 2004)
  • The Chinese Space Programme: From Conception to Future Capabilities by Brian Harvey from
  • The Chinese Space Program: A Mystery Within a Maze (Orbit: A Foundation Series) by Joan Johnson-Freese from and

Also try Abebooks in the space books section – it is great for second hand books or even auction sites like and sample return mission.

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