China's Manned Space Program
November 16, 2005
China is the third nation to put a human in orbit, and the Chinese government is understandably proud of this accomplishment. China’s space agency has expansive plans for future space exploration. I’d like to briefly discuss the history of this program, its costs, the relation to military space, plans for the future, the possibility of cooperation, and some implications for the U.S.
China’s space program started in the late 1950s and China launched its first satellite in 1970. The first Chinese launch used a Russian-built variant of the V-2. China’s chief success in space lay in developing a series of launchers – the Long March family of launch vehicles. China’s space launch vehicle program was closely tied to efforts to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles – the Shenzhou launcher is based in part on a Chinese ICBM, the DF-4. The CZ 2F, the man-rated version of the Long March family used to launch the Shenzhou can put 9 tons into low earth orbit.