In the fall of 2011, China launched its first space station, the Tiangong 1, aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket. It was launched into orbit without a crew. Its mission was to serve as manned laboratory and a test platform for orbital rendezvous. The Tiangong 1was remotely maneuver into different obits during its mission. The Tiangong 1 is intended to be the first in a series of three Tiangong space stations with the largest to be launched in 2023.
In my last blog post I brought my coverage of the Chinese Space Program up to 2002 and the final unmanned launched of a space craft capable of taking astronauts to orbit. Today, I am going to talk about the first manned missions launched by the Chinese.
The watershed events of Mao's death in 1976 and Dong Xiaoping's rise to power in 1978 brought many changes in China. The development of the China's space program slowed and some military missile projects were cancelled. But the space program recovered from the slow down and new projects were launched.
The Cultural Revolution, which was started by Mao in 1966, convulsed China. During the Cultural Revolution, many bureaucrats, teachers, and other professionals were purged and forced to work in the countryside as Mao sought to removed "capitalist" elements from positions of authority. The turbulence that ensued did serious social and economic damage to China.