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Special Report: China's first manned space mission

China has launched its first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou V, Oct. 15, becoming the third country to put a man into space, following the former Soviet Union and the United States. Today, we'll bring you the story of Qian Xuesen (Chien Hsuch-Sen), "father of China's aerospace" and "king of rockets".

Qian Xuesen (Chien Hsuch-Sen): scientist in applied mechanics, space technology and system engineering, research professor and senior advisor, State Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, executive president and honorary president, Presidium of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and chairman and honorary chairman, China Association for Science and Technology.



Qian is one of the pioneers of China's space science. A world- famous expert on aerospace rockets and aerodynamics, Qian has obtained great attainments in the areas of applied mechanics, engineering cybernetics and system engineering and made distinguished contributions to the foundation and development of Chinese aerospace undertaking. He plays a leading role in the research, manufacture and testing of carrier rockets, guided missiles and satellites.

Due to research and development led by Qian, China successfully exploded its first atom bomb in 1964, launched its first man-made satellite in 1970, fired its first transcontinental ballistic missile toward the Pacific in 1980, and launched its first manned spacecraft on Oct. 15, 2003.


With his ancestral home in Hangzhou, Jiangsu Province, Qian was born in Shanghai in 1911.


Qian graduated form Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 1934. One year later, he went to the U.S. and continue his studies in MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), after receiving master's degree in MIT, Qian went to study in California Institute of Technology. In 1939, Qian received Ph.D degrees of both aerospace and mathematics and left the school to be a teacher, as well as a researcher studying the applied mechanics and rocket and missile theories.


In 1955, six years later after the founding of New China, Qian Xuesen returned to the motherland. He has served successively as director-general with the mechanics institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences, deputy director-general and director-general with the fifth research institute of the State Defense Ministry, deputy minister with State Ministry of The Seventh Machinery, deputy-director-general with the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, president with the 3rd China Association for Science and Technology, vice president with the 6th to the 10th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Currently, Qian is the senior consultant with the Commission of Science and Technology of the General Equipment Ministry of the People's Liberation Army, honorary president with China Association for Science and Technology.

In 1956, Qian put forward "Proposal on the Development of China's Aviation Industry for National Defense" and assisted Zhou Enlai, the then premiere, and Marshal Nie Rongzheng to prepare the establishment of China's first missile and rocket R&D structure, the Fifth Research Institute of State Ministry of Defense. In the October of 1956, Qian assumed office of director-general with the fifth research institute. Henceforth, Qian has long been in charge of the chief technological officer with the R&D of China's missile, rocket and spacecraft, and has contributed great to the establishment and development of China's missile, rocket and spacecraft undertakings.


  The first prize of the natural science by Chinese Academy of Sciences (1957)
  The outstanding alumnus prize by California Institute of Technology (1979) 
  The first prize of nation's advanced technology awards (1985)
  The title of "World's Celebrity for Sciences and Engineering" (1989)
  Nation's outstanding scientist with outstanding achievements and nation's first-grade medal for heroic models (1991)

Chinese former President Jiang Zemin paid a personal visit to Qian Xuesen in 1991.

Chinese then President Mao Zedong met with Qian Xuesen in 1956.


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