Encyclopedia Astronautica
Chinese Manned Capsule 1978



fswrec3.jpg
Recovery of FSW
Recovery of an unidentified FSW reconnaissance satellite.
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Recovery of FSW
Recovery of FSW-17 photoreconnaissance satellite.
Chinese manned spacecraft. Study 1978. First public announcement of a Chinese manned program came in February, 1978.

By November the head of the Chinese Space Agency, Jen Hsin-Min, confirmed that China was working on a manned space capsule and a "Skylab" space station. However official Chinese histories show no approved Chinese manned program between 1975 and 1985 - so the whole thing seems to have been a disinformation exercise or a result of obscure political infighting.

In January, 1980 the Chinese press reported a visit with the Chinese astronaut trainees at the Chinese manned spaceflight training centre. Photographs appeared of the astronauts in training. Pressure suited astronauts were shown in pressure chamber tests. Other trainees were shown at the controls of a space shuttle-like spaceplane cockpit.

A fleet of ships for recovery of manned capsules at sea was built and in May, 1980, the first capsule was recovered from the South Pacific after a suborbital launch. But then, suddenly, in December, 1980, Wang Zhuanshan, the Secretary General of the New China Space Research Society and Chief Engineer of the Space Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced that Chinese manned flight was being postponed because of its cost. Fundamental economic development was given priority.

In the absence of any further information, it can only be conjectured that the manned capsule of this period was derived from the unmanned FSW spacecraft. The Chinese had perfected ballistic re-entry vehicle techniques very early in their space program with the FSW series of photo-reconnaissance satellites. The FSW was first successfully launched in 1976 (the first attempt, in 1974 was a launch failure; the second, in 1975, crashed to earth when the parachute failed). The spacecraft had an overall mass sufficient for a simple manned capsule (2500 kg), but the re-entry vehicle of the basic version seems a bit too small for a human occupant.

Characteristics

Crew Size: 1.

Gross mass: 2,500 kg (5,500 lb).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • CZ Chinese orbital launch vehicle. China's first ICBM, the DF-5, first flew in 1971. It was a two-stage storable-propellant rocket in the same class as the American Titan, the Russian R-36, or the European Ariane. The DF-5 spawned a long series of Long March ("Chang Zheng") CZ-2, CZ-3, and CZ-4 launch vehicles. These used cryogenic engines for upper stages and liquid-propellant strap-on motors to create a family of 12 Long-March rocket configurations capable of placing up to 9,200 kg into orbit. In 2000 China began development of a new generation of expendable launch vehicles using non-toxic, high-performance propellants with supposedly lower operating costs. However these encountered development delays, and it seemed the reliable Long March series of rockets would continue in operational use for nearly fifty years before being replaced. More...

Bibliography
  • Grondine, Ed, "Chinese Manned Space Program: Behind Closed Doors", Encyclopedia Astronautica, Web Address when accessed: here.

Chinese Manned Capsule 1978 Chronology


1978 February - . LV Family: CZ. Launch Vehicle: CZ-2 Spaceplane Launcher.
  • First public announcement of a Chinese manned program - . Nation: China. Spacecraft: Chinese Manned Capsule 1978. Summary: First public announcement of a Chinese manned program came in February, 1978. By November the head of the Chinese Space Agency, Jen Hsin-Min, confirmed that China was working on a manned space capsule and a 'Skylab' space station..

1980 January - . LV Family: CZ. Launch Vehicle: CZ-2 Spaceplane Launcher.
  • Chinese astronauts in training - . Nation: China. Spacecraft: Chinese Manned Capsule 1978. The Chinese press reported a visit with the Chinese astronaut trainees at the Chinese manned spaceflight training centre. Photographs appeared of the astronauts in training. Pressure suited astronauts were shown in pressure chamber tests. Other trainees were shown at the controls of a space shuttle-like spaceplane cockpit.

1980 December - .
  • Work on early Chinese manned spacecraft ends - . Nation: China. Spacecraft: Chinese Manned Capsule 1978. Wang Zhuanshan, the Secretary General of the New China Space Research Society and Chief Engineer of the Space Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced that Chinese manned flight was being postponed because of its cost. Fundamental economic development was given priority.

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