Encyclopedia Astronautica
1975.11.26 - FSW-0 No. 1


First orbital test of Chinese recoverable photo surveillance satellite. The spacecraft was brought down early, after three days in orbit, due to problems with the attitude control system cold gas supply. Along the skirt of the return capsule some wires and instruments were burnt during re-entry and capsule impacted far from its planned landing point. However usable film was obtained from the capsule. The Chinese Academy of Space Technology organised a team to determine the cause, and improvements were made in the next spacecraft of the model.

Immediately after launch it appeared that the satellite would be lost due to a loss of pressure of the gas orientation system. Qian Huesen believed the chance of a successful recovery was nil. However Yang Jiachi calculated that the pressure loss was simply due to heating of the spacecraft during ascent followed by the cooling in space. He believed a full-duration mission was possible. Nevertheless the decision was taken to bring down the spacecraft early, after three days of flight.

Observers were deployed to the tops of 3400 m mountains to observe the descent of the capsule in Sichuan. The recovery force awaited orders. However the satellite was not seen. After some study the scientists determined that it probably landed on Chinese soil, in Guizhou.

Meanwhile, at noon in Guizhou four coal miners were sitting in the mess hall when a red-hot ball was seen to fall from the sky and crash into a grove of trees. With great apprehension they ventured out to find a blackened hulk in a pit. Finally one threw a stone at the object, which bounced off with a metallic ding. Glad to find the thing to be of human artifice, the miners reported the matter to the authorities. The recovery force eventually arrived and found the interior of the spacecraft intact - usable film was recovered.

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