Father of Chinese Space Program Qian Xuesen Died


Qian Xuesen (钱学森)

The news that Qian Xuesen died on October 31 created a shock wave in China, but the wave didn’t seem to reach the other end of the Pacific ocean. If one search Google news on Qian Xuesen, there are only 228 results (as of Nov 2, 2009). But if one search 钱学森, there are 5,389 results. One of them was from LA Time: “Qian Xuesen dies at 98; rocket scientist helped establish Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NASA didn’t say a word. Cal Tech had few. I asked a few space engineers. None of them know about the news. One CFD expert said to me that he never saw Qian’s photo.

Qian Xuesen, also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, was a U.S. educated rocket scientist. He was one of the founders of JPL, the CalTech run NASA center. During the red scare of the 1950s the UUS government accused Qian of having communist sympathies. Qian was imprisoned at Terminal Island. Stripped of his security clearance, Qian decided to go back to China. After being under house arrest for 5 years, from 1950-55, Qian was released in exchange for the return of US pilots captured during the Korean war. Qian returned to China in September of 1955.


US pilots returned

A big lose to the USA, and a huge gain to China. Without him, the Chinese space program would be at least 20 years behind.

“We screwed up.” said the CFD expert referring to Qian’s return to China. Nevertheless, the United States managed to lead the space exploration since then. I guess that is the most important fact to them.

Invited reading: A story that Qian Xuesen told Chinese space engineers: Story of Wan Hu — The first astronaut in the world.

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4 Responses to “Father of Chinese Space Program Qian Xuesen Died”

  1. Who Invented the word “Hangtianyuan”? « Paviavio           Says:

    […] at the age of 98 sparked a huge amount of articles in memory of him. I myself wrote one too: “Father of Chinese Space Program Qian Xuesen Died“. One of the articles gives the answer: It was Qian Xuesen. According to the story told by […]

  2. Qian Xuesen handpicked Wang Yongzhi as chief architect « Paviavio           Says:

    […] Father of Chinese Space Program Qian Xuesen Died […]

  3. China First Manned Mission Program in 1960s « Paviavio           Says:

    […] and nuclear weapons while the Unite States and Soviet Unions were in Space Race. On Jan. 8, 1965, Qian Xuesen (钱学森) proposed to develop heavier manned satellite even though it was not clear to him what […]

  4. Four Ph.D. Students of Qian Xuesen at CalTech « Paviavio           Says:

    […] Father of Chinese Space Program Qian Xuesen DiedQian Xuesen handpicked Wang YongzhiStory of Wan Hu — The first astronaut in the worldWho Invented the word “Hangtianyuan”? […]

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