Chinese Space Activities in the 2000s
Ground crew recovering the Shenzhou 4 re-entry capsule. A total of 4 unmanned Shenzhou test flights were carried out between 1999 and 2002 to test the design
Shenzhou 5 spacecraft atop Changzheng 2F rocket lifting off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the early morning on 15 October 2003
Yang Li-wei, a former air force fight jet pilot, became the first Chinese citizen to have flown in space
Two astronauts, Fei Jun-long (left) and Nie Hai-sheng (right) flew the second manned mission in October 2005
Astronaut Zhai Zhi-gang became the first Chinese astronaut to have performed an EVA during the Shenzhou 7 mission in September 2008
Technicians examining the CBERS-1 remote-sensing satellite. The satellite was the result of an international co-operation between China and Brazil
China’s space programme continued making a series of high-profile achievements in the first decade of the 21st century, thank to its booming economy. In 2003, the country sent its first astronaut into space. This was followed by two more missions in 2005 and 2008, which saw Chinese astronauts staying in orbit for multiple days and also completing an EVA. In 2007, China saw lunar exploration as the first step of its deep space exploration effort, and sent its first probe to orbit the Moon in 2007.
Along with the human space flight and lunar exploration programme, China also introduced a wide range of new satellite programmes for telecommunications, Earth observation, and navigation and positioning purposes. In January 2007, China conducted a highly controversial anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) test that destroyed a retired satellite in orbit, causing fresh concerns about a new round of arms race in space.
At the same time, China had upgraded its entire space infrastructure, with new facilities and capabilities added to its existing network. A new launch centre began construction in the southern island of Hainan in 2007. By the end of the 2000s, China had emerged as a major player on the world stage of space exploration, overtaking its Asian competitors such as Japan and India, and beginning to rival the United States and Russia.
1 September: China launched its first dual-use indigenous remote-sensing satellite Ziyuan 2 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre onboard a Changzheng 4B rocket. The satellite offered a special resolution of 3m.
31 October: China launched the first of the three Beidou 1 experimental navigation satellites. The second satellite was launched on 21 December 2000, and the third on 25 May 2003. The three satellites formed an experimental regional navigation network.
10 January: The second crewed vehicle prototype Shenzhou 2 was successfully launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre onboard a Changzheng 2F rocket.
25 March: The first fully functional crew vehicle Shenzhou 3 was launched from the Jiuquan launch centre. The re-entry capsule of the vehicle was successfully recovered after a 6-day flight.
15 May: China launched its first maritime surveillance satellite Haiyang 1, along with the Fengyun 1D meteorological satellite from the Taiyuan launch centre onboard a Changzheng 4B rocket.
30 December: The fourth and final unmanned test flight of the Shenzhou vehicle, with Shenzhou 4 launched from the Jiuquan launch centre onboard a Changzheng 2F rocket. The re-entry capsule carrying two dummies inside was successfully recovered after six days.
15 October: China sent its first astronaut Yang Li-Wei into orbit onboard the Shenzhou 5 vehicle. Yang returned to Earth inside the re-entry capsule safely after orbiting the Earth 14 times in 21 hours and 23 minutes. China became the third country in the world, after Russia and the United States, to have the ability to send human into space independently.
12 October: Almost exactly three years after the first manned space flight mission, China launched Shenzhou 6 carrying two astronauts, Fei Ju-Long and Nie Hai-Sheng. The two stayed in orbit for 4 days and 19 hours before returning to the Earth safely.
27 April: China launched its first synthetic aperture radar reconnaissance satellite Yaogan 1.
11 January: China conducted its first successful anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test, with a rocket-boosted kinetic kill vehicle (KKV) launched from an unknown location near the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre destroying the retired Fengyun 1C satellite orbiting on the 853km polar orbit. The test caused the largest recorded creation of space debris in history, with over 2,000 pieces of trackable size.
14 April: The first satellite for the Compass (Beidou 2) satellite navigation system was launched from Xichang launch centre.
24 October: China launched its first lunar orbiting probe Chang’e 1. The spacecraft reached the lunar orbit in November and stayed there for 16 months before carrying out a controlled crash into the Moon surface on 1 March 2009.
25 April: China launched its first experimental tracking and data relay satellite (TDRS) Tianlian 1-01.
27 September: China’s third manned space flight mission saw three astronauts entering space: Zhai Zhi-Gang, Liu Bo-Ming and Jing Hai-Peng. During the 2-day flight, Zhai and Liu conducted China’s first extra-vehicular activity (EVA), which lasted for 25 minutes.
14 September: Construction began on China’s fourth space launch site, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre in Hainan Island. The launch site was specifically designed for the launch of the new-generation Changzheng 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle. The total cost of the project was estimated to be 5 billion Chinese RMB (US$730 million).
Chinese Space Launches in the 2000s
|#||Date||Spacecraft||Role||Orbit||Launch vehicle||Launch site||Status|
|68||2000-01-26||Chinasat 22||Mil telecom||GEO||CZ-3A||Xichang||Successful|
|73||2001-01-10||Shenzhou 2||Unmanned prototype||LEO||CZ-2F||Jiuquan||Successful|
|74||2002-03-25||Shenzhou 3||Unmanned prototype||LEO||CZ-2F||Jiuquan||Successful|
|78||2002-12-30||Shenzhou 4||Unmanned prototype||LEO||CZ-2F||Jiuquan||Successful|
|84||2003-11-15||Chinasat 20||Mil telecom||GEO||CZ-3A||Xichang||Successful|
|85||2003-12-30||Tance 1||Scientific research||?||CZ-2C/SM||Xichang||Successful|
|87||2004-07-25||Tance 2||Scientific research||?||CZ-2C/SM||Taiyuan||Successful|
|93||2004-11-18||Shiyan 2||Tech demo||GEO||CZ-2C+||Xichang||Successful|
|2005-06-09||PicoSat-3||Tech demo||LEO||KT-1||Taiyuan||? |
|95||2005-07-06||Shijian 7||Scientific research||LEO||CZ-2D||Jiuquan||Successful|
|100||2006-09-09||Shijian 8||Scientific research||LEO||CZ-2C+||Jiuquan||Successful|
|101||2006-09-13||Chinasat 22A||Mil telecom||GEO||CZ-3A||Xichang||Successful|
|103||2006-10-29||Sinosat 2||Telecommunications||GEO||CZ-3B||Xichang||Successful |
|106||2007-04-11||Haiyang 1B||Maritime surveillance||Polar||CZ-2C||Taiyuan||Successful|
Zheda Picosat 1
|113||2007-10-24||Chang'e 1||Lunar probe||Lunar||CZ-3A||Xichang||Successful|
|115||2008-04-25||Tianlian 1-01||Tracking and data relay||GEO||CZ-3C||Xichang||Successful|
|121||2008-10-30||VENESAT 1 (Venezuela)||Telecommunications||GEO||CZ-3B/E||Xichang||Successful|
|128||2009-08-31||Palapa-D (Indonesia)||Telecommunications||GEO||CZ-3B||Xichang||Failed |
|129||2009-11-12||Shijian 11-01||Tech demo||LEO||CZ-2C||Jiuquan||Successful|
- Cannot be confirmed as no public report
- The launch was successful but the satellite failed to deploy its solar panels after reaching the orbit
- The rocket failed to send the satellite to its intended orbit, though the satellite later corrected this using its own propulsion
Statistics (Launch Site)
Statistics (Launch Vehicle)
Last updated: 23 January 2012