Milestones in Beijing's space programme

China's first female astronaut Liu (centre) on her return on June 29, 2012. Astronaut Yang was China's first man in space.
Astronaut Yang was China’s first man in space. PHOTO: XINHUA
China's first female astronaut Liu (centre) on her return on June 29, 2012. Astronaut Yang was China's first man in space.
Cold War spy Qian Xuesen
Moon rover Yu Tu touched down on the lunar surface on Dec 15, 2013.
China's first female astronaut Liu (centre) on her return on June 29, 2012. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Moon rover Yu Tu touched down on the lunar surface on Dec 15, 2013.
Moon rover Yu Tu touched down on the lunar surface on Dec 15, 2013. PHOTO: WEIBO OF PEOPLE'S DAILY
Left: The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft. Below: A portrayal of China's Mars rover and lander.
PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
China's first female astronaut Liu (centre) on her return on June 29, 2012. Astronaut Yang was China's first man in space.
The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, REUTERS
China's first female astronaut Liu (centre) on her return on June 29, 2012. Astronaut Yang was China's first man in space.
A portrayal of China's Mars rover and lander.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, REUTERS

OCT 8, 1956

China sets up the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of National Defence headed by alleged Cold War spy Qian Xuesen, marking the start of its space programme.

APRIL 24, 1970

It sends its first space satellite, Dongfanghong-1, into orbit. This date has been designated China Space Day since this year.

OCT 15, 2003

It sends its first astronaut, Yang Liwei, into space on the Shenzhou-5 mission. 

SEPT 27, 2008

First spacewalk by a Chinese astronaut, Zhai Zhigang, one of three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-7 mission.

SEPT 29, 2011

China launches Tiangong-1 space lab module, which is the predecessor of Tiangong-2 that was launched last month.

JUNE 16, 2012

Transport plane pilot Liu Yang becomes China's first woman astronaut on the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft. The mission also achieved the country's first manual docking in orbit when it linked up with the Tiangong-1 module.

DEC 15, 2013

China's first moon rover Jade Rabbit, or Yu Tu, soft-lands on the lunar surface. China is the third country to achieve the feat after US and Russia.

AUG 16, 2016

China launches the world's first quantum satellite that will establish "hackproof" communications between space and Earth. 

SEPT 25, 2016

China begins operation of theAperture Spherical Radio Telescope (above), the world's largest radio telescope, to explore the universe. 

OCT 17, 2016

China launches its longest space mission, Shenzhou-11. The spacecraft docks two days later with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 where two astronauts will spend most of 33 days.

2018

China to launch a core module of its permanent space station.

2020

China to launch an unmanned rover on Mars.

2022

China to launch its permanent space station, expected to be the only one operational after the International Space Station expires in 2024.

2025

China to put its nationals on the Moon.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2016, with the headline 'Milestones in Beijing's space programme'. Print Edition | Subscribe