V0.2 - 17-04-2020
So far the history pages have been diving into the US and Soviet landers, but one large nation has been upcoming for the last few years. China announced their first satellite in 1958 but only performed this launch using its Long March 1 rocket in April 1970. Their first satellite orbited for 26 days transmitting the song The East is Red from space.
The first successful Chinese recovery from space occurred in 1975 when a remote-sensing satellite was recovered. This satellite series was called the FSW or Fanhui Shei Weixing recoverable satellite. These satellites were launched on top of a Long March 2 booster from Jiuquan. The enhanced version of the FSW satellite, called FSW-2 (image on the right) was launched on a Long March 2C booster. This capsule had a diameter of 2.2 meters and a mass of 2.1 tons.
The first living payload to be recovered occurred in 1990 a FSW-2 satellite containing roughly 60 animals was recovered. FSW flew a total of 24 times and was recovered successfully 23 times.
Shenzhou capsule under the main parachute
After the go-ahead in 1992 to start a human-to-space program China launched the first Taikonaut in 2003. On the Shenzhou 5 flight, Yang Liwei flew a 21-hour mission, completing 14 orbits. The Chinese Shenzhou capsule (image on the left) is strongly based on the Russian Soyuz capsule but slightly bigger. In the following years, China completed an impressive human space flight program including orbital rendezvous and the construction of a modular space station.
In 2013 China joined the planetary landing club when the Chang'e 3 lander landed successfully on the moon. This mission was followed by the Chang'e 5 sample return lander in 2020. In 2021 China landed their first successful Mars mission called Tianwen-1 (image on the right). This mission included a Mars rover.