November 02, 2009
Tsien Hsue-Shen Dead at 98
- 1935: Qian Xuesen (usually printed Tsien Hsue-Shen) leaves Shanghai for graduate studies at MIT and later, at the urging of renowned rocket scientist Theodor Von Karman, himself only recently arrived in the USA from Hungary, continuing studies and research at Cal Tech. Not long afterward, Von Karmen and his collegues, including Qian, founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- 1945: Qian Xuesen and Von Karmen went to Germany at the end of World War II and helped coordinate "Operation Paperclip" that brought the Nazi rocket scientists, particularly the famous Werner Von Braun, to the United States. Von Braun and his proteges had surrendered to American troops in advance of the Russian front. The Russians, however, "inherited" the production crews of the Nazi rocket and aerospace industries. The Nazi regime in Germany had by far the most advanced technology. Many of Qian's theories were tested and proven by the Nazi scientists. Qian assimililated much of the Nazi expertise and quickly became the foremost theoritician in rocket and jet propulsion in the USA.
- 1950: Both the USA and the Soviet Union were actively experimenting with modified Nazi V-2 rocket designs with many successful launches. By 1950 the USA had established what would become the Cape Kennedy space center in Florida. At the same time, the USA and China entered a long period of bitterness over the collapse of the USA backed regime headed by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek and the victory of the Communist Party in China. A sudden and still little-understood chain of events led to the Korean War, the creation of a protectorate for the failed Chiang government, and an anti-communist hysteria that would ultimately engulf the USA. A victim of this unhappy period was Qian Xuesen who became a virtual prisoner after he was accused of being a communist conspirator.
- 1955: Qian Xuesen is deported to the People's Republic of China. He is welcomed as a hero and quickly put in charge of China's rocket programs.
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