Fanhui Shi Weixing (simplified Chinese: 返回式卫星; traditional Chinese: 返回式衛星; pinyin: Fǎnhuí Shì Wèixīng; literally "recoverable satellite") is a series of Chinese recoverable reconnaissance satellites. The satellites were used for both military and civilian observation needs, with a total of 26 flights. The first flight was FSW-0 on 1969-06-01 and the last SJ-8 on 2006-09-09.
Four models of the satellites were introduced: FSW-0, FSW-1, FSW-2, and the most modern being FSW-3. All satellites were put in orbit using the Long March rockets, most of them by the CZ-2C type.
Successful achievement of landing technology (third in the World after Soviet Union and United States) was the basis for the second Chinese manned space programme (period of 1978-1980), third manned programme Project 863 (late 1980s), and current Shenzhou programme (since 1992).
China started developing this kind of satellite in the early 1970s. On 26 November 1975, China launched the first FSW satellite from Jiuquan in Inner-Mongolia. The satellite finished its mission successfully on 29 November 1975 and returned to earth safely, with the landing location in a special zone (Liuzhi Special District; 六枝特区) of Guizhou Province. It was the first Asian atmospheric reentry mission, and China became the third country to recover a satellite after its mission.
There are mainly three generations in history: FSW-0; FSW-1; FSW-2 and the current FSW-3. Until the year 2003, China launched in total 22 of this kind of satellite, for climate, geographical and agricultural purposes.
It was the first generation of China's returnable satellites. The main use was for the inspection of national land and natural resources. Satellites of this generation all carried prism-scan cameras. It did not have any complete orbit control system, so its decay or attenuation of orbit was fast; it thus had a relatively short orbit duration. Its accuracy for landing or return location was relatively low.
This generation carried much more powerful cameras. The main use of this generation was for drawing geographical maps. Its resolution was as high as 10m.
|Satellite Mass (km)||1800||2100||2800~3100|
|Satellite Volume (m3)||7.6||7.6||12.8|
|Return Load (kg)||260||260||400|
|Launch Load (kg)||340||450||500~600|
|Mission Duration (day)||3~5||8||15~17|
|Microgravity Gradient (g)||10−3~10−5||10−3~10−5||10−3~10−5|
|Orbital Inclination (°)||57~68||57~70||57~70|
|Orbit Period (min)||~90||~90||~90|
|Launch Rocket Type||Long March C||Long March C||Long March D||Long March C or D|
Manned flights 
Due to lack of information both about origins of FSW and about second manned space programme (that was announced few times in 1978 with the open publishing of some details including photos, but then was abruptly cancelled in 1980), first model FSW-0, probably, was designed initially for manned use as spacecraft instead of first manned programmme Shuguang aborted in early 70s.
The West were suggesting that after dozen of mostly successful launches of FB-1 and CZ-2 rockets and 4 successful annual launches of FSW (last one in January 26, 1978 claimed as dress rehearsal) China made in December, 1978 (or on January 7, 1979 according to another unconfirmed sources) the first attempt of launch of manned version of FSW spacecraft, but due to fail with loss of astronaut this program was closed, and the FSW satellite (redesigned for unmanned goals as subsequent models) only retrieved a flight in 1982.
|Name||Launch Date (y/m/d)||Return Date (y/m/d)||Launch Load (kg)||Return Load (kg)||Apsis (km)||Apogee (km)||Period (min)||Angle(°)|
- 1975年：第一颗返回式卫星发射 (Year 1975: The Launch of the First Returnable Satellite; from www.gmw.cn)
- 返回式卫星 (China's First Returnable Satellite, from the website of the Central Government of P.R.China)
- "Chinese Manned Capsule 1978". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
- "Chinese Manned Space Program: Behind Closed Doors". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-05-13. http://www.astronautix.com/articles/chidoors.htm