Home > NEWS
Commentary: From Nothing to Glory in Six Decades - China's Space Program
SOURCE: Xinhua     UPDATED: 2016-10-09

BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- In China the number 60 is auspicious as it relates to a cyclic numeral system of the chronology. The past 60 years has seen China's space program develop from a concept to one success after another.

Saturday is the 60th anniversary of the beginning of China's space program. Over the past six decades, China has successfully developed its own processes and has become a space science power.

Like the United States and Russia, China's space program developed from advances in ballistic missile technology during the Cold War period. On Oct. 8, 1956, the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defense was established, with Qian Xuesen at the helm.

A world-renowned rocket scientist and one of the co-founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Qian returned to China from the United States in 1955 and would become the "father of China's aerospace."

Since then, Oct. 8, 1956 has been called the starting point of China's space program.

With the dedication of engineers and scientists like Qian and thanks to the ever increasing national strength, China has taken its place as a member of the world's exclusive "space club" by achieving a number of great breakthroughs.

On April, 24, 1970, Dongfanghong-1 was sent into orbit, the country's first space satellite. Since 2016, this day has been called China Space Day.

On Oct. 15, 2003, Shenzhou-5, a manned spacecraft, successfully carried China's first taikonaut Yang Liwei into space, and on Dec. 15, 2013, the country's first moon rover successfully soft-landed on the lunar surface.

A total of 12 taikonauts have travelled in space. China has established the Beidou navigation and positioning system, and its Long March series of carrier rockets have been launched 236 times with a success rate of 97.5 percent.

Since the very beginning, China has understood that innovation was the only path to success.

Within the past 60 years, China has mastered a number of core technologies with completely independent intellectual property rights.

China's space program is now accelerating, but it has left its military roots behind. The future is science and exploration.

Last month, China's first space lab Tiangong-2 was successfully sent into orbit. It will dock with Shenzhou-11, the manned spacecraft, later this month so that taikonauts can live in the lab.

Its heavyload Long March-5 carrier rocket will blast off later this year. It shoulders the mission of sending China's space station into orbit around 2018. Deep space exploration is also on the agenda.

How about the next 60 years? As China's space program keeps growing, not even the sky is the limit.