Qian Xuesen has died at 98; he helped found Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory before being deported as a suspected Communist
China's Rocket Pioneer: 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. Xinhua
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.