Author Topic: 50 years since Dongfanghong  (Read 4964 times)

Offline Phillip Clark

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50 years since Dongfanghong
« on: 04/23/2020 10:59 pm »
Just posted on my Facebook page.

On Friday April 24, 1970 at 13:35 UT China became the fifth nation to launch its own satellite when it launched Dongfanghong ("The East is Red") from launch complex 5020 at the launch site which would become known as Jiuquan.   With a mass of 173 kg, the satellite was by far the heaviest "first satellite" to be launched by any of the space nations up to that point.

There had been some rumours of an earlier launch failure in late 1969 but these were incorrect.   The first test flight of the Changzheng-1("Long March" 1) launch vehicle (without an operating third stage) did not come until January 10, 1970, thus ruling out any earlier launches.

The satellite was launched into a 114.06 minutes, 440-2,386 km orbit with an inclination of 68.47 deg: it is still in orbit.   The launch vehicle's solid-propellant third stage was in a similar orbit, but it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on December 29, 2000.

Signals from the satellite were (naturally!) picked up by the Kettering Group.   At the time of the launch I had just started my analysis of the Soviet space programme - something which took up most of my intellectual time from that point on.   Since the Chinese space programme appeared to be even more "secret" than the Soviet programme I naturally started to follow/analyse what China was doing in space.   My first paper on the subject - for some strange reason called "The Chinese Space Programme" - was published in the May 1984 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Phillip Clark

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50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #1 on: 04/24/2020 12:40 am »
Cross-posted from the Space History page after being posted on my Facebook page.

On Friday April 24, 1970 at 13:35 UT China became the fifth nation to launch its own satellite when it launched Dongfanghong ("The East is Red") from launch complex 5020 at the launch site which would become known as Jiuquan.   With a mass of 173 kg, the satellite was by far the heaviest "first satellite" to be launched by any of the space nations up to that point.

There had been some rumours of an earlier launch failure in late 1969 but these were incorrect.   The first test flight of the Changzheng-1("Long March" 1) launch vehicle (without an operating third stage) did not come until January 10, 1970, thus ruling out any earlier launches.

The satellite was launched into a 114.06 minutes, 440-2,386 km orbit with an inclination of 68.47 deg: it is still in orbit.   The launch vehicle's solid-propellant third stage was in a similar orbit, but it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on December 29, 2000.

Signals from the satellite were (naturally!) picked up by the Kettering Group.   At the time of the launch I had just started my analysis of the Soviet space programme - something which took up most of my intellectual time from that point on.   Since the Chinese space programme appeared to be even more "secret" than the Soviet programme I naturally started to follow/analyse what China was doing in space.   My first paper on the subject - for some strange reason called "The Chinese Space Programme" - was published in the May 1984 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline anik

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #2 on: 04/24/2020 06:39 am »
There had been some rumours of an earlier launch failure in late 1969 but these were incorrect.   The first test flight of the Changzheng-1("Long March" 1) launch vehicle (without an operating third stage) did not come until January 10, 1970, thus ruling out any earlier launches

It was the first DF-4 launch that is failed on November 16, 1969.

On January 30 (not 10!), 1970 the second DF-4 (not the first CZ-1!) was successfully launched.

There was not CZ-1 suborbital launch before April 24, 1970.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #3 on: 04/24/2020 08:11 am »
It was the first DF-4 launch that is failed on November 16, 1969.

On January 30 (not 10!), 1970 the second DF-4 (not the first CZ-1!) was successfully launched.

There was not CZ-1 suborbital launch before April 24, 1970.

I was not aware what the launch vehicle was that resulted in the November 1969 launch failure, so thank you for that information.

The book China Today: Space Programmes (in Chinese) says that there was a suborbital test of the CZ-1 without an operating third stage in January 1970.   In the early 1990s I queried this with a representative of CGWIC and he confirmed the report, and he gave the launch date as January 10.   So maybe his information was incorrect?
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline anik

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #4 on: 04/24/2020 08:26 am »
There can be found more sources, but two of them are below:

https://sinodefence.com/df-4/

By July 1969, the Seventh Ministry of Machinery Industry had drafted the test flight plan for the DF-4 Batch-01 testing. Two missiles were delivered to the Jiuquan Missile Test Centre (Base 20) in late August 1969 for partial-range (depressed trajectory) flight test. The first missile (Y1) was erected on the launch pad in October 1969 but the missile’s engine was damaged in an accident and as a result the whole missile was withdrawn. A second missile (Y2) was launched on 16 November, but missile’s first- and second-stage failed to separate during flight. The repaired Y1 missile was put back to the pad and launched on 30 January 1970. The missile flew normally and hit its target zone with satisfactory accuracy.
On 24 April 1970, a modified three-stage DF-4 using the designation CZ-1 was launched from Jiuquan, successfully placing China’s first experimental satellite Dong Fang Hong 1 into Earth orbit.

https://web.archive.org/web/20191013173147/http://www.zgjunshi.com/Article/Class38/Class89/Class99/200407/20040715223130_6.html

Translated by Google

The first launch test of the Dongfeng No. 4 missile was determined as the "short-range overall scheme verification" test, and a tower launch was conducted at the Jiuquan test base to investigate the feasibility of the overall design scheme, focusing on evaluating the two-stage separation and second-stage engine high-altitude ignition performance. In October 1969, during the final preparation of the No. 01 missile at the launching position, a major accident in which the primary engine had to be replaced due to the accidental explosion of the primary engine shut-off valve occurred. After inspection, the accident was caused by a poorly designed test route. The missile was re-tested at the technical position after replacing the engine, so it did not participate in the first flight test.
On November 16, the 02 missile conducted a flight test. After the rocket fired into the air, the first stage was not shut down during flight, the second stage was not ignited, the two stages were not separated, the missile self-destructed and the test failed due to a failure of the command system. After inspection, the reason for the failure of the test is that the program distributor in the flight was stopped halfway, mainly due to the quality of the equipment. Missiles have both technical and technological quality problems, and when they are tested at test bases, they also have operational errors and improper handling. To this end, all the test participants summed up their experience in depth, carefully implemented the "serious, thoughtful and meticulous, safe and reliable, foolproof" test policy, conducted a large number of stand-alone tests and multiple system inspection tests to eliminate mutual interference between systems Wait for failures and hidden dangers. Take measures to improve the reliability of the program distributor and increase the backup signal of the first level shutdown time to ensure that the two levels can be separated normally according to plan.
On January 30, 1970, the No. 01 missile after the engine replacement was successfully tested at the Jiuquan test base, and the two-stage separation was normal. The second stage rocket engine successfully ignited at high altitude, the control instrument was working normally, the warhead landed near the intended impact point, the deviation of the impact point was small, and the test was successful. The results of this test prove that the overall technical solution for medium and long-range missiles is feasible and the work of each system is coordinated. This successful launch is of great significance. On the one hand, it marks that China has mastered the two-stage rocket technology, and at the same time, it also laid a solid foundation for the successful launch of the Long March 1 carrier rocket. Three months later, on April 24, 1970, the Long March 1 rocket with a third-stage solid engine based on the Dongfeng No. 4 missile successfully launched China's first artificial earth satellite Dongfanghong-1 to perigee 439 Kilometers, apogee is 2384 kilometers, and the inclination angle is 68.5 degrees in low-Earth orbit. China has become the fifth country in the world to independently develop and launch artificial earth satellites.

Offline gwiz

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #5 on: 04/24/2020 09:48 am »
Can't remember my source, but the third stage was reported to carry a large disk to aid optical tracking.  Presumably this disk successfully deployed, as this would explain why the third stage decayed more rapidly that the satellite.  However, I've never seen a picture of the third stage with the disk.  Does anyone know any more?
« Last Edit: 04/24/2020 01:41 pm by gwiz »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #6 on: 04/24/2020 01:26 pm »
Would love to see a good image of the first "Long March".  Some faded movie stills seems to be all I can find on the Internet.  Some are reversed, but I'm not sure which.  DF-3 based launch vehicle a much different animal than today's DF-5 based family.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/24/2020 01:31 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #7 on: 04/24/2020 05:37 pm »
According to CCTV.com, it appears that Phil Clark's claim that there was no attempt to launch a satellite in 1969 by the PRC is in fact incorrect.

See this link:  http://www.cctv.com/program/tsfx/20030729/100316.shtml  (includes color photos)

In google translate, we read the following:

"....
"The Legend of Dongfanghong Satellite" (2003-65)
CCTV International July 03, 2003 10:38

 (Director Wang Lin)

In 1969, the "Dongfanghong-1" satellite finally completed the overall design and entered the factory with the rocket.

  But new problems have arisen again. The satellite surface has low reflectivity, and people will not be able to see satellites in space with the naked eye. This is a difficult problem-it must be designed without changing the technical status of satellites and rockets. The reason is that the "Dongfanghong-1" satellite and rocket have already begun production. The General Department of Satellite Design proposed that no matter what device is designed, the weight should not exceed 17.5 kg.

  Based on the principle of folding umbrella, the research team made a device and named it "Observation Skirt". But once the vacuum state is entered, the "Observation Skirt" can't be opened as if it is stuck with paste.

Interview with Lu Zhangfu, a member of the Observation Ball Development Team: "Dress, can't you come out when you dance, it's not the same thing in a vacuum. It's aside because its mass distribution is uneven Wherever he goes, he runs further and further away. "

  The time to launch the first satellite from China is getting closer and closer. Political pressure made the group almost desperate, and they decided to change the "observation skirt" to "observation ball". Consider designing a spherical observation body on the third stage rocket, plating aluminum on the surface, and then polishing to make its reflective brightness meet the requirements.

  After 11 months, the special material for making the "observation ball" was finally developed successfully. The test date has arrived. The "observation ball" does not inflate the satellite rocket before it goes to heaven, making it light and flat. Once the rocket goes to heaven, the centrifugal force generated during the last stage of the rocket's spin is used to inflate the "observation ball" to expand it into a sphere of 40 square meters   

  An interview with Lu Zhangfu, a member of the Observation Ball Development Team: "When we first conducted the test, we did the test in the factory building. There was a center line close to three meters high. Some old comrades of the team saw that after going out, they called Chairman Long live Chairman Mao, and the atmosphere was quite warm. "

  At 5:45 pm on November 16, 1969, the first test flight was conducted at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and the rocket was successfully ignited and launched. However, due to the failure of the program distributor of the second-level control system, the transmission failed. This failure caused the satellite launch to be postponed. Two months later, the second rocket flight test organized by the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center was successful.

  But Japan ’s first artificial satellite, "Osumi", was launched on February 11, 1970.

..."

So it seems to me that there was a launch failure of their SLV.  How connected it was to an actual satellite launch, that I am not sure about.

But the US was monitoring very carefully Chinese rocket launchings.

--In a White House Situation Room report by Duty Officer Way Wotring from the 25/26 December 1967 (yep, two years earlier) there is the following notation at 0410 Zulu:  "Conferred with NSA and CIA re reports of alleged ChiCom satellite launch on 25 December.  Neither has any confirming info."

--In a FMSAC document entitled "Foreign Ballistic Missile and Space Developments in 1969" (Published in August 1970) there is an appendix labeled "Non-Soviet test range firings in 1969" (as in, Chinese).  In there for a date of November 16, it states "Activity apparently involved a launch operation which may have been delayed, postponed, or cancelled at the last moment."  All other launches identified that year from mainland China were "according to COMINT."  That may indicate that the COMINT connected with the November 16, 1969 launch attempt was of insufficient detail to be conclusive.

--Also, there was a newspaper article (either New York Times or International Herald Tribune) from either 1967 or 1968 where there were indications via large propaganda posters posted in downtown Beijing that an imminent space launching was near.  However, after a set of several days, these posters were removed.  There was some speculation in the newspaper article that this may have possibly indicated that there had been a launch failure.   I am describing this to you extemporaneously as I have been attempting to track down the newspaper clipping about this.  A colleague of mine, Ulrich Brocks, had sent me this roughly 15 years ago.  I can tell you that the US government would have taken note of such propaganda posters appearing.

Offline limen4

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #8 on: 04/24/2020 08:13 pm »
It was the first DF-4 launch that is failed on November 16, 1969.

On January 30 (not 10!), 1970 the second DF-4 (not the first CZ-1!) was successfully launched.

There was not CZ-1 suborbital launch before April 24, 1970.

I was not aware what the launch vehicle was that resulted in the November 1969 launch failure, so thank you for that information.

The book China Today: Space Programmes (in Chinese) says that there was a suborbital test of the CZ-1 without an operating third stage in January 1970.   In the early 1990s I queried this with a representative of CGWIC and he confirmed the report, and he gave the launch date as January 10.   So maybe his information was incorrect?

On Nov 1 1969 posters have been identified in Beijing which are honoring the launch of China's first man-made satellite. And there are some more reasons, why a satellite launch in November would have made sense. First, China celebrates in October the 25th anniversary of the countrys founding. Second, it was well known for Chinese scientists that Japan was also preparing a satellite launch and it was a question of honour for them to be the first in the competition.
One more detail. According to the English version of China Today: Space Industry almanac five flight models of the DFH-1 have been ready in Sep 1969. It seems that losses in the first flight trials have been counted in.
I have checked the webpage of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. Under this link you can find a report which is saying that the Jan 1970 launch was a CZ-1 test. From my point of view it seems that flight testing of DF-4 only started Nov 1970 and exclusively from the Jingyu missile base.
Hopefully on the occassion of DFH-1 50th anniversary some of the open questions will be answered.
« Last Edit: 04/24/2020 08:18 pm by limen4 »

Offline spaceman3

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #9 on: 04/24/2020 09:19 pm »
Actually, nothing in the information you shared from cctv.com invalidates Phil Clark's claim that there was no launch failure before the successful orbital attempt on April 24, 1970. The source strongly implies that the launch on November 16, 1969 was a non-orbital test flight (which failed). It implies there was a second non-orbital test flight (which succeeded) "two months later" -- a launch which Phil Clark clearly mentions.

I'm not saying that there wasn't a failure to launch to orbit before April 1970 -- just that the evidence you provide doesn't say so.

Asif
« Last Edit: 04/24/2020 09:23 pm by spaceman3 »

Offline anik

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #10 on: 04/24/2020 09:43 pm »
On Nov 1 1969 posters have been identified in Beijing which are honoring the launch of China's first man-made satellite. And there are some more reasons, why a satellite launch in November would have made sense. First, China celebrates in October the 25th anniversary of the countrys founding. Second, it was well known for Chinese scientists that Japan was also preparing a satellite launch and it was a question of honour for them to be the first in the competition

But what satellite China would launch in November 1969 if construction of DFH-1 has begun only in 1970?

http://www.cctv.com/program/tsfx/20030729/100316.shtml

Translated by Google

In 1969, the "Dongfanghong-1" satellite finally completed the overall design and entered the factory with the rocket.

In 1970, Beijing Satellite Assembly Factory began to rigorously assemble the first Dongfanghong satellite. On March 21, the satellite successfully completed the assembly of 15 procedures, all completed the final assembly task. Three months later, the "Dongfanghong-1 Satellite" was prepared to be transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in secret.

On April 1, 1970, a special train containing the "Long March 1" rocket and two "Dongfanghong-1" satellites was transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu after a secret journey of 4 days and 4 nights.

Online Liss

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #11 on: 04/24/2020 10:24 pm »
I have checked the webpage of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. Under this link you can find a report which is saying that the Jan 1970 launch was a CZ-1 test. From my point of view it seems that flight testing of DF-4 only started Nov 1970 and exclusively from the Jingyu missile base.

The text you refer to seems not to be a logical and concise. Its says for example that in Nov 1968 the authorities (National Defense Science and Technology Commission and the National Defense Industry Office) requested the 1st Academy to test fly CZ-1 1st and 2nd stages as a medium-to-long range missile in 1968 and to strive to launch satellite before the National Day in 1968.

Of course this is impossible as the National Day of October 1, 1968, preceded the quoted date of the order. It is reasonable that the order was actually given in November 1967. Nevertheless, the authorities ordered to fly test the DF-4 medium-to-long range missile before launching the satellite. It was this missile launched successfully on 30 Jan 1970.

Much earlier, in 2004, in a history of DF-4 five launches of the batch 01 group 1 missiles were listed as:
1969 Nov 16 -- DF-4 №2 (2nd stage failure)
1970 Jan 30 -- DF-4 №1 (successful)
1970 Apr 24 -- CZ-1 (successful)
1970 Nov 23 -- DF-4 (Jingyu)
1971 Nov 15 -- DF-4 №6 (Jingyu, silo launch, successful)
Of course the second CZ-1 launch on 1971 Mar 03 should be added to have a complete set of six DF-4 tested in the first group, four as DF-4 and two as CZ-1.

Even more earlier, in 2002, full serial numbers appeared for the first two tests (601902 and 601901), for DFH-1 (601904) and for the 1970 Nov 23 failed test (701006). Two remaining numbers seem to be 601903 and 701005.
This message reflects my personal opinion based on open sources of information.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #12 on: 04/24/2020 10:25 pm »
Perhaps I should have been more clear in what I wrote.   I meant to indicate that there had been no *orbital attempt* prior to the launch of DFH on April 24, 1970.
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Offline Lar

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #13 on: 04/25/2020 01:22 am »
(mod)These two identical topic threads have been merged. Posters are encouraged to refactor or delete redundant posts as necessary.  Thanks.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline Stan Black

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #14 on: 04/25/2020 09:30 am »
I have checked the webpage of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. Under this link you can find a report which is saying that the Jan 1970 launch was a CZ-1 test. From my point of view it seems that flight testing of DF-4 only started Nov 1970 and exclusively from the Jingyu missile base.

The text you refer to seems not to be a logical and concise. Its says for example that in Nov 1968 the authorities (National Defense Science and Technology Commission and the National Defense Industry Office) requested the 1st Academy to test fly CZ-1 1st and 2nd stages as a medium-to-long range missile in 1968 and to strive to launch satellite before the National Day in 1968.

Of course this is impossible as the National Day of October 1, 1968, preceded the quoted date of the order. It is reasonable that the order was actually given in November 1967. Nevertheless, the authorities ordered to fly test the DF-4 medium-to-long range missile before launching the satellite. It was this missile launched successfully on 30 Jan 1970.

Much earlier, in 2004, in a history of DF-4 five launches of the batch 01 group 1 missiles were listed as:
1969 Nov 16 -- DF-4 №2 (2nd stage failure)
1970 Jan 30 -- DF-4 №1 (successful)
1970 Apr 24 -- CZ-1 (successful)
1970 Nov 23 -- DF-4 (Jingyu)
1971 Nov 15 -- DF-4 №6 (Jingyu, silo launch, successful)
Of course the second CZ-1 launch on 1971 Mar 03 should be added to have a complete set of six DF-4 tested in the first group, four as DF-4 and two as CZ-1.

Even more earlier, in 2002, full serial numbers appeared for the first two tests (601902 and 601901), for DFH-1 (601904) and for the 1970 Nov 23 failed test (701006). Two remaining numbers seem to be 601903 and 701005.


If it is the same batch of five would it not be 601905?

Offline limen4

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #15 on: 04/25/2020 11:02 am »
Can't remember my source, but the third stage was reported to carry a large disk to aid optical tracking.  Presumably this disk successfully deployed, as this would explain why the third stage decayed more rapidly that the satellite.  However, I've never seen a picture of the third stage with the disk.  Does anyone know any more?

Online Liss

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #16 on: 04/25/2020 12:02 pm »
If it is the same batch of five would it not be 601905?
The number structure is YBBYNN where YY is year of production, BB is batch number and NN is actual number. So both 701005 and 701006 fit perfectly.
And the two sources, 2002 and 2004, contradict on the number of the 1970 DF-4 test.
« Last Edit: 04/25/2020 12:03 pm by Liss »
This message reflects my personal opinion based on open sources of information.

Offline Satori

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Offline Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #18 on: 06/18/2020 10:56 pm »
I have good news.

I finally found the article about a Chinese Launch Failure in the 1960s that I mentioned briefly before.  This is courtesy of my good colleague Ulrich Brocks.

It is an article from the International Herald Tribune from November 15, 1968.

I decided to provide the whole article, verbatim.  This tells me the entire story of the PRC's march to space has not yet been fully told.

China Failure in Satellite Test Hinted

HONG KONG Nov. 14 (NYT)--Reports from Peking indicate that China may have failed recently in an attempt to put a satellite in orbit.

The reports have come to Hong Kong from foreigners recently in the Communist Chinese Capital.

According to reports, a wall poster was seen in Peking in late October, announcing "warm acclaim" for the launching what was called China's "first man-made satellite."

This poster was followed by another a few days later on Changan Street, the capital's central boulevard leading into Red Square.  This poster also referred to the launching of a satellite.

The Changan Street poster, however, was covered up within a few hours after it appeared.

The reports reaching here say that among members of diplomatic missions friendly to Communist China, there was talk early this month of reports that a satellite had been lofted, though no one had any authoritative information.

The tentative nature of the news of a satellite launching has led observers here to speculate that a launching may, in fact, have been attempted around the end of October but that something went wrong.  This is believed to have led Peking officials to clamp down on publicity, but not quickly enough to stop a few posters from going up.

Communist China is known to be trying to develop medium and long-range missiles.  One phase of this development could be the testing of rockets through launching a satellite.

China's nuclear and missile weapons development  program is believed to have been slowed down, possibly because of both political harassment of scientists and technical problems.

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: 50 years since Dongfanghong
« Reply #19 on: 06/19/2020 04:43 am »
The first reported launch of DF-4 was on 16 November 1969, which was a failure. It would seem a bit odd that there would have been an orbital attempt over a year earlier. Maybe they could have tried a T-7A on top of a DF-2?
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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