Qian Xuesen, father of China's missile programme, passes away

Qian Xuesen, known as the father of China's space and missile programmes, has died. He was 98. Also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, Qian passed away Saturday in Beijing, China's state news agency reported without giving cause of death.

There is no immediate information on survivors.

Qian Xuesen
Qian Xuesen
Known as the "Father of Chinese Rocketry" in his homeland Qian was responsible for developing China's intercontinental ballistic missiles, Silkworm anti-ship missiles and weather and reconnaissance satellites.

It would startle many to know that he was also one of the founding fathers of the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, California, being the founding director of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center. He was also a member of the university's so-called Suicide Squad of rocket experimenters who laid the groundwork for testing done by JPL.

It was Qian's research that contributed to the development of "jet-assisted takeoff" technology that the US military began using in the 1940s.

The regard in which he was held elsewhere around the world can be gauged from the fact that Asteroid 3763 Qianxuesen was named after him. Science fiction author Arthur C Clarke, in his novel 2010: Odyssey Two, named a Chinese spaceship after him.