Successful program ignited by modest spark of an idea

Screen image captured at Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, June 17, 2021 shows China's Shenzhou-12 manned spaceship having successfully docked with the space station core module Tianhe. [Photo/Xinhua]


It was in August 1958 that Chinese scientists started to float the idea of sending Chinese astronauts to space.


At that time, the Chinese Academy of Sciences,中科院 the country's top scientific body, 国家最高科学机构 had formed 成立 a panel of distinguished scientists一组杰出的科学家组成的小组 to discuss 来讨论 the research and development of satellites.卫星的研究和发展 Whether and how China should start a manned 载人 space program 航天计划 was also included on the agenda议程, three years before三年前 the Soviet Union's Yuri Gagarin undertook 进行了(过去式)mankind's 人类的 first space journey.第一次太空旅行

During a workshop 研讨会上 at the academy's Institute 中国科学院 of Mechanics力学 in Beijing in late August八月末, Zhao Jiuzhang, a preeminent geophysicist,一个卓越的地球物理学家 became the first Chinese scientist to suggest the government consider developing and building spaceships for manned missions.载人飞船

Meanwhile, 与此同时 a handful 一些 of Chinese institutes had also begun to carry out preliminary初步 research into fields related相关 to manned spaceflights载人航天, such as life-support technologies.

With a mountain of difficulties困难重重 facing the young People's Republic of China, the government and the scientific community soon found that they could not afford the resources资源 required for a manned space program载人航天计划需要的, and would have to bide their time.只能等待时机

In February 1963, the CAS established 成立了a "space travel commission" 太空旅行委员会 to make theoretical preparations 理论准备 for robotic机器人 and manned spaceflights.载人航天

In the next three years, several remarkable advances一些显著的进展 were made: Two institutes were founded to prepare for manned space missions成立了两个研究所为载人航天做准备; specific具体的 schedules were produced制定具体时间表; and scientists launched several carrier rockets to ferry animals发射了几艘运载火箭, including dogs and monkeys, into and back from space.往返太空

Although endeavors努力 by mission planners规划定制者 and scientists slowed down during the period时期 of the "cultural revolution"文化大革命 (1966-76), they did not abandon their aspirations志向 to send Chinese into space and continued trying to persuade the government to approve批准 and fund资助 a manned spaceflight.

In February 1968, the government set up the People's Liberation Army Fifth Academy, which later became the China Academy of Space Technology后来成为中国空间技术研究院, to design and manufacture制造 satellites and also to explore manned spaceship technologies.

In the meantime与此同时, more researchers from around the country began to take part in discussions and planning for China's first manned spacecraft, which was named by State leaders Shuguang 1, or Dawn Light 1.

In July 1970, Chairman Mao Zedong and other top leaders formally approved China's first manned space program. Three months later, the PLA started to select 20 astronaut candidates 航天员候选人from Air Force pilots and train them at a highly classified 机密complex in Beijing.

The government had also chosen a remote valley山谷 in Xichang, Sichuan province, as the location of a new space launch facility to serve manned spaceflights. The facility's construction建设 started in the winter of 1970.

Due to the nation's poor technological and industrial capabilities as well as the absence缺少 of institutes and factories capable of making certain components, 能够制造某些零件 China's manned spaceflight program halted停滞 in the mid-1970s.

About 10 years later, space authorities and scientists urged the government to reopen the program and add a new objective: to build a permanent space station.

In the 1980s, their suggestion became reality as the government launched what later became known as Project 863.

In August 1992, a special committee decided that China would use manned spacecraft使用载人飞船 to assemble组装 a space station in the near future在不久的将来. The plan was approved in September that year by the top leadership, officially kicking off the nation's manned space exploration program.该计划于同年9月被最高领导层批准,正式启动中国的载人航天探索计划。