Dongfanghong (Chinese: 东方红; pinyin: Dōngfāng Hóng; literally: "The East is Red") was a satellite program of the People's Republic of China. The program started in August 1965 as Project 651—a less ambitious successor to the earlier Project 581—with the goal of launching a satellite heavier than both Sputnik 1 and Explorer 1 into space, and developing all the necessary technologies to do so.
In 1958, the Chinese Academy of Science proposed Project 581 which included a plan to launch a satellite into space before 1 October 1959. The project was troubled due to the country's lack of expertise in the field of rocketry. On 21 January 1959, Zhang Jingfu, who was in charge in the satellite research program, postponed the project to allow effort to be put into developing more basic technologies, such as sounding rocketry. In December 1964, during the 3rd National People's Congress, Zhao Jiuzhang suggested that the work on satellites be resumed. In August 1968, the Central Special Committee approved Chinese Academy of Science's plan, which later became Project 651.
In June 1965, the Central Special Committee made the decision to pursue development of a launch vehicle. As per the request of Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), the vehicle's first stage and second stage would be based on a DF-4 long range missile. A solid-fueled third stage was added to the design.
Effect on the name of the Soviet Salyut programme
According to Boris Chertok's memoirs, when the first Soviet space station, Salyut 1, was under construction, its designated name was "Zarya" (which means "Dawn", in Russian). When the Soviets realized that the Chinese have a space program with a similar name ("Dongfanghong" was also rendered as Zarya into Russian), they renamed their space station to "Salyut" ("Firework"), to avoid confusion.
- Zhao, Zhuqing, ed. (14 April 2010). ""东方红一号"中国第一颗人造卫星诞生内幕" [Dongfanghong-1: The inside story of China's first satellite]. People.cn. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Xie, Guangyuan (9 November 2007). Zhang, Wenjun, ed. "长征一号的研制历程" [The development of Long March-1]. People.cn.
- Boris Chertok, Rockets and People, Volume 4: The Moon Race. Chapter 14 in the Russian edition.