20 January 2016

History of Rocketry and Astronautics: Proceedings of the 47th History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics

Andrew S. Erickson, ed., History of Rocketry and Astronautics: Proceedings of the 47th History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics, American Astronautical Society (AAS) History Series, 45 (San Diego, CA: Univelt, 2015).


  • Andrew S. Erickson, “Preface,” ix.          PREFACE & VOLUME INFORMATION
  • Andrew S. Erickson, “Six Decades of Chinese Space History: A Comparative History of Rocket and Satellite Development,” 205-64.          PART 1           PART 2 


The papers contained in this volume were presented at 47th History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) at the 64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), held in Beijing, China, on September 23-27, 2013. This event represented a historic opportunity for the first developing nation to have achieved comprehensive space capabilities to share its progress with the world space community. As part of the congress, I was privileged to join other participants in technical visits to the China Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application (CRESDA) and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST).

IAC offers the premier international presentation of technical space research and development. No other event in the world offers this scope, depth of knowledge, or access to experts in the field. The fact that this event was hosted in China ensured strong representation by a wide range of Chinese specialists from top governmental and commercial organizations. While only one Chinese group presented on an IAA panel, this volume—in a final section devoted to history of Chinese contribution to astronautics—contains four chapters relating to challenges and opportunities (including one not taken) in Chinese space development. Clearly, there will be plenty to write about in the future on this important subject.

This volume also contains a wide range of chapters documenting contributions to international spaceflight in the traditional areas of memoirs and organizational histories, and scientific and technical histories. Together, these three categories form the organizing principles for this volume.

Back in 1967, when the very first IAA Proceedings was being edited, China was in the throes of the Cultural Revolution and had yet to launch its first satellite. The founding father of China’s space development, Qian Xuesen (to whom this volume is dedicated), found himself in a difficult political position even as his vital importance to the nation was recognized. Nearly half a century later, the IAC conference location itself—the China National Convention Center—symbolized a new era for China and its interaction with the world. IAC was just one of a half dozen major national and international conferences being held simultaneously on topics ranging from blood platelets to aviation. Were Qian Xuesen to have had the opportunity to attend, he would have found his vision for China well on the way to being fulfilled.

Dr. Andrew S. Erickson

Volume Editor

United States Naval War College

Newport, Rhode Island


Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix



Chapter 1. Heinz-Hermann Koelle and His Contributions to Space Development

          Charles A. Lundquist and Francis L. Williams …….3

Chapter 2. David Gordon Fearn: The Father of the European Ion Engine

          John Harlow and Mali Perera. . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Chapter 3. Vladimir Ivanovich Yazdovsky: Biomedical Researcher Supporting Manned Spaceflight

          Alexander A. Medenkov . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Chapter 4. Entering the Sixtieth Year of Acta Astronautica

          Yi-Wei Chang, Jeng-Shing Chern, and Jean-Pierre Marec . . . 49



Chapter 5. Spaceport Australia: Early Proposals for Equatorial Launch Facilities in Australia

          Kerrie Dougherty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75

Chapter 6. New Observations on Reaction-Propelled Manned Aircraft Concepts, ca. 1670–1900, A Survey: Part 1 (1670–1869)

          Frank H. Winter, Kerrie Dougherty and Philippe Cosyn . . . . 95

Chapter 7. To Ride a Comet: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Israel’s Shavit Satellite Launch Vehicle

          Tal Inbar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

Chapter 8. New Horizon: Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of Israel’s First Satellite, Ofek-1

          Tal Inbar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135

Chapter 9. The Japanese Rockoon Program for the IGY: Technology and Japanese Society

          Shizuko Hamada-Poret . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145



Chapter 10. Intersection of the Careers of Rudolf Hermann and Qian Xuesen

          Charles A. Lundquist and Shi Tsan Wu . . . . . . . . 161

Chapter 11. A 1946 Proposal for a Chinese Rocket Program

          Marsha Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177

Chapter 12. The Development History of Chinese Launch Vehicles

          Haipeng Chen, Bing Zhang, Xiaojun Wang, Guoai Li, Shuhui Zhang and Xudong Qin . . . . . . . . . . . 193

Chapter 13. Six Decades of Chinese Space History: A Comparative History of Rocket and Satellite Development

          Andrew S. Erickson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

AAS History Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269


Proceedings of the Forty-Seventh History Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics Beijing, China, 2013

Andrew S. Erickson, Volume Editor 

Rick W. Sturdevant, Series Editor 

AAS History Series, Volume 45

A Supplement to Advances in the Astronautical Sciences 

IAA History Symposia, Volume 33

Copyright 2015



AAS Publications Office

P.O. Box 28130

San Diego, California 92198

Affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Member of the International Astronautical Federation

First Printing 2015

ISSN 0730-3564 ISBN 978-0-87703-625-8 (Hard Cover)

ISBN 978-0-87703-626-5 (Soft Cover)

Published for the American Astronautical Society

by Univelt, Incorporated, P.O. Box 28130, San Diego, California 92198

Web Site: http://www.univelt.com

Printed and Bound in the U.S.A.

Chapter 13

Six Decades of Chinese Space History:
A Comparative History of
Rocket and Satellite Development

Andrew S. Erickson

China’s first space achievements were in military/civilian rockets and satellites. Nuclear power status and deterrence required missiles to credibly deliver warheads. Satellites were also prioritized for strategic reasons and lack of import options. Foreign heritage and prioritized domestic efforts enabled progress amid obstacles. China now has many increasingly-advanced and -supported systems, some cutting-edge.

China is the most recent great power to emerge in aerospace. It has become the first developing nation to achieve comprehensive aerospace production capability. Outside the developed aerospace powers, only China has demonstrated competence concerning all aspects of a world-class aerospace industry: production of advanced rockets, satellites, and aircraft and of their supporting engineering, materials, and systems. As an emerging great power during the Cold War, China was still limited in resources, technology access, and capabilities. It thereby faced difficult choices and constraints. Yet it achieved increasing, though uneven, technological levels in different aerospace sub-sectors. Explaining this variance can elucidate challenges and opportunities confronting developing nations sharing limitations that previously constrained China.

Rockets (missiles and space launch vehicles/SLVs) and satellites (military and civilian) were two areas of early achievement for China, and represent this chapter’s two in-depth case studies. Initial import of American and Soviet knowledge and technology, coupled with national resources focused under centralized leadership, enabled China to master missiles and satellites ahead of other systems. Early in the Cold War, great power status hinged on atomic development. China devoted much of its limited technical resources to producing nuclear weapons in order to “prevent nuclear blackmail,” “break the superpowers’ monopoly,” and thereby secure great power status. Beijing’s second strategic priority was to develop reliable ballistic missiles to credibly deliver warheads, thereby supporting nuclear deterrence. Under Chairman Mao Zedong’s direction and the guidance of the American-educated Dr. Qian Xuesen (H. S. Tsien), missile development became China’s top aerospace priority. Satellites were also prioritized for military-strategic reasons and because they could not be purchased from abroad following the Sino-Soviet split. By the Cold War’s end, China had achieved comprehensive rocket and satellite capabilities. Today it is pursuing cutting-edge systems in both areas, continuing formidable indigenous development while absorbing foreign technology where possible. To understand the reasons for China’s aerospace development trajectory it is necessary to consider closely its specific history and larger context.

The chapter will therefore examine the decision-making, organization, and technological development that made such progress possible. …