A timeline of China’s progress in spaceflight

China successfully launches its first biological experiment at the edge of space: a rocket carrying eight white mice.

China launches its first satellite, which broadcasts the patriotic anthem “The East is Red” into orbit.

China launches a remote sensing satellite that orbits the planet and returns to Earth on November 29.

Deng Xiaoping approves a science and technology project codenamed “863” to develop the country’s crewed spacecraft.

Jiang Zemin endorses “Project 921,” a plan for China’s crewed space program that included the goal of building a space station by 2020.

A Long March 3B rocket carrying a US company’s satellite explodes 22 seconds after liftoff, killing at least 63 people as debris and flaming fuel land on a Chinese village. A US investigation into the crash later led to federal lawsuits against US satellite makers for sharing the technology with Chinese officials.

China launches and recovers an uncrewed spacecraft, Shenzhou 1, for the first time, a key step towards sending the country’s astronauts into orbit.

Shenzhou 5 launches into orbit with China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, on board.

China is conducting its first test of an anti-satellite weapon, matching a capability demonstrated by the United States and Russia.

The first Chinese-built lunar probe, Chang’e 1, is launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Zhai Zhigang becomes the first Chinese astronaut to walk in space.

China completes its first crewed space docking when the Shenzhou 9 space capsule meets the Tiangong-1 laboratory prototype in orbit.

China’s Chang’e 3 robotic probe lands on the moon, deploying the Yutu rover.

A second orbital laboratory prototype, Tiangong-2, is launched to replace Tiangong-1.

The abandoned and out of control Tiangong-1 laboratory prototype crashes in the southern Pacific Ocean after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

Chang’e 4 becomes the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the far side of the moon.

The Long March 5B, one of the most powerful rockets in service on the planet, completes an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and some of its debris lands on a village in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa.

Xi Jinping announces the opening of Beidou 3, a global navigation satellite system providing GPS-like services to China and other customers.

Chang’e 5 returns to Earth with samples from the moon.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft lands on Mars with the Zhurong rover, completing China’s first landing on another planet.

The Shenzhou 12 mission takes three Chinese astronauts in Tianhe, the initial module from the Tiangong space station.

Launch of the Xihe solar observation satellite.

China launches Wentian, the second space station module.

Mengtian, the third and final module, launches and then docks the next day with the space station complex, completing construction of the Tiangong outpost in orbit.

The Shenzhou 15 mission takes off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, carrying three Chinese astronauts to the completed Tiangong space station. They dock the next day, marking the first time that six occupants have been on board at once and beginning permanent astronaut occupancy of the space station.

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