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Wang Xiji
Wang Xiji
Wang Xiji
Credit: China Academy of Sciences
Chinese space technology pioneer. Chief Designer of China's sounding rockets, first space launch vehicle, and first recoverable satellites.

Born: 1921. Birth Place: Dali, Yunnan.

Wang Xiji was of Pai nationality, and born in 1921 in Kunming into a merchant family. In 1942 he graduated from National Southwest Associated University with a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1948 Wang went to America to obtain a Master's Degree at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. He decided to return to home after the Communist victory without completing his doctorate. In China he worked successively as a professor at the Dalian Engineering Institute, the Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the Shanghai Scientific and Technical University. In 1958 he was preparing to go to Germany for a two-year teaching exchange when he suddenly received a transfer order from the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee. He was to report to the Shanghai Mechanical and Electrical Design Institute as the technical head and develop China's first sounding rocket.

Wang later held the post of Vice-President of the Fifth Directorate, then Director, Astronautics for the Ministry of Industry. Wang's sounding rockets began launch in 1960. He developed a total of 12 types of sounding rockets, including the first Chinese boosters to deliver and recover biological payloads. Many of the designs were recoverable and reusable. His research was directly applicable to military unguided rocket designs.

Wang was later made responsible for development of China's first space booster, the Long March 1, as well as sounding rockets to sample the by-products of atmospheric nuclear tests. His FSW recoverable satellite design had the potential to leapfrog those of the United State and Russia. It was originally to fly in 1972, with a manned version flying in 1973. If funding for his work had not been restricted by the government for 30 years, he could have advanced Chinese astronautics much more quickly. As it was he managed to make the first attempted launch of the FSW in 1974 and the first successful orbital test in 1975.

Wang Xiji was able to design a recoverable satellite with an immediate much higher success rate than the American Discoverer or Soviet Vostok/Zenit series. The system was proved in 50 air delivery tests in Inner Mongolia before the first space flight. Wang was criticized during the Cultural Revolution when a parachute failed to open during deployment experiments. Only records providing that the spacecraft was not intentionally destroyed set him free. He immediately continued his work on recoverable spacecraft.

Official Chinese Academy of Sciences Biography

Wang Xiji (Wang HSi-Chi)

Space technology expert. Born in Dali, Yunnan Province. Received Bachelor of engineering from National Southwest Associated University in 1942 and MS from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, USA in 1949. Professor and technical advisor, Chinese Academy of Space Technology.

In the 1960s, Wang was in charge of the research and development of 12 types of sounding rockets and the technical design of China's first launch vehicle Long March 1. He was one of the pioneers in the development of China's space technology and the first chief designer of Chinese recoverable satellites (CRSAT). In the 1970s and 1980s, his design team proposed three types of CRSAT technical design which reached world advanced levels. He successfully conducted China's first space experiment piggyback microgravity experiment on CRSAT. He was the first in China to propose the view which considers the space environment as a resource and stated that manned space technology must be developed in order to exploit space resources.

He was elected Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1993.


Education: Virginia Poly.

Country: China.

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