Back in 1955, Qian Xuessen, regarded the father of China 's ballistic missile force and its space program, returns to China from the United States . While in the U.S. he trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in rocket research and as a one-time colonel in the U.S. Air Force working on the U.S. Ballistic Missiles program. Qian returned to communist China amid charges he was a spy. He then became the leading scientist of China 's own effort to develop ballistic missiles and other rockets. In 1958, Qian presents plans for China 's first satellite and rocket to launch it to the communist party leadership. On April 24, 1970 , China launched its first satellite using a modified CSS-3 intercontinental ballistic missile, later renamed the Long March 1 rocket. The rocket remained in space for 26 days. Then later in 1975, China launches its 1 st recoverable satellite, which returns to earth three days later, and they become the third country to able to operate recoverable satellites. On September 7, 1988 China decided to launch its 1 st meteorological satellite, which was the FY-1A at Taiyuan base. In April of 1990, a Long March CZ-3 sends AsiaSat-1 communication satellite into orbit, marking the start of their commercial launch service. Then later on July 16, 1990 China launches CZ-2E, a cluster carrier rocket, laying a foundation for manned spacecraft launches. In 1992, China lists manned spaceflight as one of its state projects, later named Shenzhou (Divine Vessel). Then later on November 20, 1999 , China launches its Shenzhou experimental spacecraft for the 1 st time and the re-entry module lands in Inner Central Mongolia Autonomous region the next day. Two years later on
January 10, 2001 , the Shenzhou-2 experimental spacecraft launches successfully and the re-entry capsule returns to earth on January 16, in Central Inner Mongolia after carrying out scientific research projects. Just over a year later on March 25, 2002 , China sends the unmanned Shenzhou-3 into orbit and after circling the earth 108 times, the craft returns to earth, landing in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regions in April. On December 30, 2002 the Shenzhou- 4, also an unmanned spacecraft also launches successfully. Finally, most recently on October 15, 2003 the Shenzhou-5 blast off into space from Jiuqan launch center, and China sends its 1 st astronaut into orbit, piloted by Yang Liwei.