Space Day in China Date in the current year: April 24, 2024

Space Day in China Space Day in China is celebrated annually on April 24. It was inaugurated in 2016 to emphasize the achievements of the Chinese space program. The date of the holiday was chosen to commemorate the launch of China’s first space satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, on April 24, 1970.

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite. After this, Chinese leader Mao Zedong decided that China needed to develop and launch its own artificial satellite to keep up with the superpowers (the Soviet Union and the United States). He planned to have the first Chinese satellite launched in 1959 in honor of the 10th foundation anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Of course, such a short time frame was unrealistic. The first success of the Chinese space program was the launch of a sounding rocket carrying eight white mice on July 19, 1964. Chinese airspace engineers used this experience to start the development of the country’s first carrier rocket in 1969.

On November 16, 1969, China attempted to launch its first satellite to get ahead of Japan, which planned to launch its first satellite, Ohsumi, in February 1970. However, this attempt ended in failure. China had more luck with the second satellite launch attempt on April 24, 1970. The anniversary of this launch is now celebrated in China as Space Day.

The first Chinese satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, was launched into orbit by the Long March 1 rocket, also known as Changzheng-1, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Its launch marked the completion of China’s “Two Bombs, One Satellite” nuclear and space project, which also included an atomic bomb test in 1964 and a hydrogen bomb test in 1967.

Thanks to the successful satellite launch, China became the second space-faring nation in Asia and the fifth in the world, as well as the eleventh country to successfully have a satellite launched into space (six of the countries that had launched a satellite before China had used American launch vehicles).

After the launch of the artificial satellite, the next goal of the Chinese space program was the launch of a manned mission aboard the Shuguang One spacecraft by 1973. However, the manned space project was canceled in 1972 due to a number of economical and political reasons.

In 1993, China National Space Administration was established to oversee the country’s national space program. It was tasked with coordinating the Shenzhou program that made China the third nation (after the Soviet Union and the United States) to independently send a human into space in 2003.

The first Chinese astronaut was Yang Liwei. As of 2021, China has sent ten more astronauts into space, two of them women: Fei Junlong, Nie Haisheng, Jing Haipeng, Liu Boming, Zhai Zhigang, Liu Wang, Liu Yang, Zhang Xiaoguang, Wang Yaping, and Chen Dong. The first Chinese national to walk in space was Zhai Zhigang.

In 2011, China launched its first prototype space station, Tiangong-1, and performed its first successful orbital docking. Plans currently include a crewed mission to the Moon.

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