Ren Xinmin

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Ren Xinmin
Born(1915-12-05)5 December 1915
Died12 February 2017(2017-02-12) (aged 101)
Alma mater National Central University
Chongqing Ordnance School affiliated to Military Ministry
University of Michigan
Known forparticipant in the Two Bombs, One Satellite Project
Scientific career
Institutions University at Buffalo
Institute of Military Engineering
China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation

Ren Xinmin (Chinese :任新民; pinyin :Rén Xīnmín; Wade–Giles :Jen Hsin-min; 5 December 1915 – 12 February 2017) was a Chinese aerospace engineer and a specialist in astronautics and liquid rocket engine technology. He was the technical director of the Long March 1 rocket, which launched the Dong Fang Hong I, China's first satellite, and the chief designer of Chinese storable propellant rocket engine. [1] He was also the chief designer for Long March 3 launch vehicle, Fengyun, and SJ (Shijian) series satellites. [2]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Pinyin Chinese romanization scheme for Mandarin

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

Wade–Giles, sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade, during the mid-19th century, and was given completed form with Herbert A. Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892.


Together with Huang Weilu, Tu Shou'e and Liang Shoupan, Ren was considered one of the "Four Elders of China's Aerospace", only surpassed by Qian Xuesen, the founder of China's aerospace industry. [3] He was awarded the Two Bombs, One Satellite Merit Medal in 1999. [4] Ren was elected a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1980. [2]

Huang Weilu was a Chinese electrical engineer and specialist in the control systems of missiles and rockets. The chief designer of JL-1, China's first submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), he was awarded the Two Bombs, One Satellite Meritorious Medal in 1999 and the Highest Achievement Award of China's aerospace industry in 2006. He was an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Academy of Astronautics.

Tu Shou'e or Shou-ngo Tu was a Chinese rocket scientist and specialist in structural mechanics. Tu is famous as the chief designer of the Long March 2 rocket and China's intercontinental ballistic missile.

Liang Shoupan was a Chinese aerospace engineer. The chief designer of China's first generation of anti-ship missiles including the HY-1 and HY-2, he is regarded as the "father of China's cruise missile program". He also designed the C-101, C-801 and other missiles. He was an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Academy of Astronautics. In 2006, he was one of the five scientists who received the Highest Achievement Award of China's aerospace industry.

Early life and education

Ren Xinmin was born on 5 December 1915 in Ningguo, Anhui Province. [2] [3] When he was a middle school student, he joined the Communist Youth League. He studied chemical engineering at the National Central University in Nanjing. After the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, he took refuge in Chongqing where he studied gun design at the National Institute of Technology, Ministry of Military Administration. He worked at an armoury after graduation in 1940. Ren attended University of Michigan in 1945, where he obtained his MS and PhD. [2] [5]

Ningguo is a county-level city in the southeast of Anhui province,People's Republic of China, under the administration of Xuancheng City and bordering Zhejiang province to the south and east. It has a population of 380,000 and an area of 2,447 km2 (945 sq mi).

Anhui Province

Anhui is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the eastern region of the country. The province is located across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, bordering Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a short section in the north.

Chemical engineering branch of science that applies physical sciences and life sciences together with applied mathematics and economics to produce, transform, transport, and properly use chemicals, materials and energy

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that uses principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and economics to efficiently use, produce, design, transport and transform energy and materials. The work of chemical engineers can range from the utilisation of nano-technology and nano-materials in the laboratory to large-scale industrial processes that convert chemicals, raw materials, living cells, microorganisms, and energy into useful forms and products.


After the Second World War, Ren read a book authored by Qian that roused his interest in rocket science. When he returned to China in 1949, he arrived in Nanjing and was offered a research fellowship until 1952, when he left for Harbin. In those three years, Ren and his colleagues attempted to launch a tiny rocket, though experimentation was never completed. [5]

Harbin Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Heilongjiang, Peoples Republic of China

Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, and largest city in the northeastern region of the People's Republic of China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, Harbin has direct jurisdiction over nine metropolitan districts, two county-level cities and seven counties. Harbin is the eighth most populous Chinese city according to the 2010 census, the built-up area had 5,282,093 inhabitants, while the total population of the sub-provincial city was up to 10,635,971. Harbin serves as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural, and communications hub in Northeast China, as well as an important industrial base of the nation.

Despite Ren's specialisation in mechanical engineering, he was appointed as the director of rocket teaching and research section to teach solid-propellant rocket course at Institute of Military Engineering. [3]

Then Ren was recruited by the Fifth Academy of the Ministry of Defence in 1956. His first task was incorporating the design and technology to replicate the R-2 rocket with the assistance of Soviet experts. Dongfeng 1 was a licensed version of the R-2 with limited maximum range was launched smoothly in 1960. Ren was appointed as the chief designer and helped developed the Dongfeng 2, a medium-range rocket in 1961. [3]

The Ministry of Aerospace Industry of the People's Republic of China was a government ministry responsible for its national space program. This ministry was split into the China National Space Administration and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in July 1993 as a part of government reforms and modernization efforts.

Ministry of National Defense of the Peoples Republic of China Chinese government ministry responsible for military and national defense matters

The Ministry of National Defence of the People's Republic of China or for short the "National Defence Ministry" is the 2nd-ranked ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defence.

A colleague recalled, in a 2014 documentary, Ren leading a successful five-day march in 1967 in the cold western desert seeking a downed test rocket as one anecdote from his long career. [6]

Ren served as Vice Minister of the Seventh Ministry of Machine Building from 1975 until 1982, when he was moved to Ministry of Aerospace Industry. There the 331 Project, to build and launch a communication satellite, was successfully implemented. Ren was in charge of its five sections as chief engineer; [7] he was nicknamed the "Chief Chief Engineer (总总师)". [3]

Ren's insistence on applying LOX/LH2 rocket engines led to the success of the Long March 3 in 1984, even though he had suffered numerous failures, and then faced the resulting backlash. He had also been a dedicated promoter of China's manned spaceflight and space station projects since the 1980s. [8]

Personal life

Ren married Yu Shuangqin (Chinese :虞霜琴), the daughter of a Nationalist government official, in 1944. [9]

Ren died on 12 February 2017 in Beijing, aged 101 (102 in East Asian age reckoning). [3] His wife and children survived him. [6]

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  1. "百岁任新民中国航天的总总师". China Space News (in Chinese). 9 December 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Ren Xinmin". Encyclopedia Astronautica.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Zhang, Zhihao (14 February 2017). "Top rocket scientist dies, age 102". China Daily.
  4. "Founder of Chinese space industry Ren Xinmin dies at 102". China Radio International.
  5. 1 2 "从"两弹一星"到载人航天:访任新民同志" (in Chinese). 14 August 2014.
  6. 1 2 Ives, Mike, 'Ren Xinmin, Pioneering Chinese Satellite Designer, Dies at 101", New York Times, 16 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  7. "回顾331工程——国卫星通信工程发展 明灯玉宇傲苍穹" (in Chinese).
  8. "航天传奇任新民". China Science Daily (in Chinese). 11 October 2013.
  9. "航天泰斗任新民" (in Chinese).