Encyclopedia Astronautica
Long March


The amazing story of rocket development in China is given in the milestones below.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • JL-1 Chinese submarine-launched ballistic missile. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x DF-21 + 1 x DF-21 St2 More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Yellow Sea Launch Area Submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area known to have been used for 7 launches from 1982 to 2005, reaching up to 1000 kilometers altitude. More...

Long March Chronology


1935 August 15 - .
  • Tsien Hsue-shen leaves China to study at MIT. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: Tsien Hsue-shen, father of Chinese rocketry and spaceflight, leaves China on a Boxer Rebellion Scholarship to study at MIT..

1936 September 1 - .
  • Tsien Hsue-shen enters CalTech - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Goddard; Tsien; von Karman. Program: Long March. Tsien Hsue-shen, at the urging of Theodore von Karman, begins graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology. He will continue there for nearly twenty years, first as a student, finally as the Goddard Professor, becoming one of the leading rocket scientists in the United States.

1950 June 6 - .
  • Tsien Hsue-shen accused of being a Communist. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. FBI agents interrogate Tsien Hsue-shen on allegations that he is a Communist. The same day his security clearance is revoked, making it virtually impossible to continue meaningful work in rocketry. The allegations seem unlikely to his associates at CalTech (his wife was the daughter of one of Chiang Kai-shek's leading military strategists). Two weeks later, Tsien announces his intention to return to China. Tsien, denied the possibility to work, becomes enmeshed in a tug-of-war between differing viewpoints in the US government bureaucracy: those that want to deport him as an undesirable alien, and those that want to keep him in the country because of what he knows.

1955 September 17 - . Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Tsien Hsue-shen deported from the United States. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. After five years of wrangling, and secret talks in Geneva between the Red Chinese and US governments, Tsien is deported from the United States. Upon arrival in China, he was immediately put to work as head of the Chinese missile program. He had to introduce US systems engineering approaches to Chinese engineers, and build the technical infrastructure to enable China to build rockets.

1956 February 17 - . Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Plan for missile development proposed. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Tsien Hsue-shen submits a secret proposal to the State Council for ballistic missile development - 'Prospectus for Establishment of a National Defence Aviation Industry'. The proposal calls for the establishment of a research facility for aeronautics and missile development.

1956 May 26 - . Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Fifth Academy founded. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. The Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defence is founded for development of ballistic missiles. Tsien is named its first Director on October 8. The Academy is established on the premises of an old hospital and two sanatoriums, with an initial staff of 100 high school graduates and 100 to 200 college graduates. Tsien teaches an 'Introduction to Rocket Technology' course while Zhuang Faggan from CalTech teaches aerodynamics.

1956 September 13 - . LV Family: R-1; R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Russian agrees to sell China two R-1 missiles - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: They were delivered in December 1956. Tsien is disgusted to find that the missiles are nothing but copies of the V-2. Something more advanced is needed, he argues to the Russians..

1957 October 15 - . LV Family: R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Russia to assist China in missile development - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Russian and China sign New Defense Technical Accord, whereby Russia will supply China with protoype atomic bomb and two R-2 missiles, and related technical data. Under the agreement the Soviet Union will provide to China the necessary specialists, training, and tooling for licensed production of the R-2 ballistic missile (an improved version of the V-2).

1957 December 24 - . LV Family: R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • R-2 missiles arrive in China. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: A Red Army missile battalion with two R-2's and their launchers arrive in Beijing by rail. They are secretly moved to the premises of the Fifth Academy in the middle of the night..

June 1956 - . Launch Site: Jiuquan. LV Family: R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Beginning of construction at Jiuquan missile test site - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: The 20th Corps of the People's Liberation Army begins construction of launch and tracking facilities at Jiuquan. Wells are dug, willow and poplar trees are planted, roads and housing are constructed..

1958 September 19 - . LV Family: DF-2; R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1; DF-3 Tsien.
  • Missile development plans set. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: Fifth Academy finalizes plan to proceed development of indigenous Dong Feng missiles (original DF-1, DF-2, DF-3 designations).

1959 September 15 - . Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • First missile factories built. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: First Chinese missile production factories built: Shenyang (missile frames) Nancheng (engines)..

1960 August 23 - . LV Family: DF-2; Kosmos 2; R-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-1.
  • Last Russian advisers leave China. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: The last Russian technical advisers are withdrawn from China..

1960 November 14 - . LV Family: DF-3. Launch Vehicle: DF-3.
  • DF-3 ICBM development begun. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Tsien appoints himself head of the DF-3 project - a quantum leap to build a 10,000 km range liquid oxygen/kerosene propellant intercontinental ballistic missile. The objective proves much too ambitious and is eventually cancelled. It is the last missile project Tsien is allowed to manage.

1964 September 12 - . LV Family: CZ; DF-2; DF-3. Launch Vehicle: DF-1; DF-3 Tsien; DF-4.
  • Chinese missiles redesignated and new development plan adopted. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Tsien had conducted a series of meetings with the Chinese leadership during the year to redefine China's missile development plans. There are clashes between Tsien, who favours an American engineering approach, and his staff, who were trained in Russian and favour the Soviet approach. Finally the missiles were defined by their target objectives, and a new development plan was adopted, with definite goals. The 1059 missile (copy of Russian R-2) was redesignated DF-1. The DF-2 was to be improved to carry an atomic bomb to a range sufficient to hit Japan. The DF-3 ICBM was cancelled, and the new DF-3 project would involve development of a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the Philippines (earlier referred to as the DF-1). The DF-4 was to be capable of hitting Guam, and the DF-5 would be an ICBM capable of reaching the United States. The DF-2, DF-3 and DF-4 would use strap-down accelerometer guidance packages, while the DF-5 was to be equipped with a full-fledged inertial guidance unit.

1964 October 16 - . LV Family: DF-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-2A.
  • First Chinese atomic bomb tested. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March. Summary: The warhead had a yield of 20 kilotons..

1964 November 4 - . LV Family: DF-2. Launch Vehicle: DF-2A.
  • Go-ahead for DF-2A. - . Nation: China. Related Persons: Tsien. Program: Long March. Summary: Decision to proceed with DF-2A extended range version of DF-2.

1967 June 17 - .
  • China conducts first thermonuclear bomb test. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March.

1976 June 1 - . Launch Site: Jiuquan. Launch Vehicle: DF-4.
  • Date uncertain. First test of DF-4. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March.

1980 February 15 - . Launch Site: Taiyuan. LV Family: CZ. Launch Vehicle: DF-5.
  • Last DF-5 partial range test. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March. Summary: Other sources do not list this test..

1980 August 15 - . Launch Site: Jingyu. Launch Vehicle: DF-4.
  • First DF-4 test from Jingyu. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March. Summary: First launch from Jingyu test site..

1980 October 15 - . Launch Site: Jingyu. Launch Vehicle: DF-4.
1985 October 15 - . Launch Vehicle: JL-1.
  • Reported first launch of JL-1 SLBM. Partial failure? - . Nation: China. Program: Long March.

1988 September 27 - . Launch Site: Yellow Sea Launch Area. Launch Pad: 35.0 N x 125.0 E. Launch Vehicle: JL-1.
  • First JL-1 SLBM launch. - . Nation: China. Program: Long March. Summary: First successful JL-1 launch, impacting 123.53 deg N, 28.13 deg E..

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