The move was later condemned by Dan Kimball, formerly the US Secretary of the Navy, who described the expulsion as “the stupidest thing this country ever did”. Qian Xuesen, a Chinese citizen, moved to the United States in 1935 to study at first the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then the California Institute of Technology.
He joined a group of American scientists, nicknamed the ‘suicide squad’ due to their recklessness, working to develop rockets.
During the second world war this group was working with the American military and Mr Qian joined the US government’s Science Advisory Board.
However, in 1949 communists, led by Chairman Mao, seized control of his native China triggering fresh fears about espionage.
Mr Qian was suspected of US intelligence of having attended a meeting of the Pasadena Communist Party.
“The stupidest thing this country ever did”
“He was one of the most prominent scientists in America”
According to the BBC fresh research indicates he became a party member in 1938.
In 1950 Mr Qian was confronted by authorities and spent the next five years under house arrest until President Eisenbower decided to deport him back to China.
Speaking to the BBC journalist Tianyu Fang said: “He was one of the most prominent scientists in America.
“He had contributed so much and could have contributed much more.
Tribute to Qian Xuesen following his death
“So it’s not just humiliation but also a sense of betrayal.”
Once back in China Mr Qian worked to become trusted by the new regime and in 1970 directed the launch of Dong Fang Hong I, Beijing’s first ever space satellite.
Missiles he worked on also provided the basis for China’s nuclear arsenal, with the country successfully testing its first atomic bomb in October 1964.
Fraser Macdonald, who wrote ‘Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket’, argued the expulsion of Mr Qian was a serious blow for the US.
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Chairman Mao and the Chinese communists won power in 1949
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Talking to the BBC he said: “There’s this odd circularity.
“The US expelled this expertise, and it has come back to bite them.”
Mr Qian, who became known as “the people’s scientist”, became a national hero in China.
In Shanghai a museum created in his honour holds 70,000 separate artifacts.
China is currently locked in a new space race with the United States with both countries having plans to return humans to the Moon.
Using its Artemis programme NASA hopes to have American astronauts, including the first woman, on the Moon again in 2024.
In May China successfully launched its Long March 5B rocket which could eventually be used to take astronauts of lunar missions.
China has developed into a major space power
First Beijing plans to construct a new Chinese space station by 2022.
In 2019 China became the first country to reach the far side of the Moon using a rover.
Chinese authorities want to put a human on the Moon in around a decade, after which they plan to build a lunar base.