Left: A Chinese Long-March 4-B rocket blasts off on Nov. 6, 2004. Right: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visits Qian Xuesen on August 2, 2008.
One can only imagine how history might have played out if the United States had not deported a Chinese-born Caltech rocket scientist on suspicion of being a Communist in 1955. Qian Xuesen first fought his deportation, but later accepted his fate and went on to become the founder of China's missile and space programs. His death this past Sunday comes as China broadens its space exploration efforts to become a potential challenger to a troubled U.S. space program, or perhaps a partner.