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5 December 1915|
Ningguo, Anhui, China
|Died||12 February 2017
|Institutions||University at Buffalo
Institute of Military Engineering
China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation
|Alma mater||National Central University
Chongqing Ordnance School affiliated to Military Ministry
University of Michigan
|Known for||participant in the Two Bombs, One Satellite Project|
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. He was a specialist in astronautics and liquid rocket engine technology. Ren was the technical director of the Long March 1 rocket, which was used for the successful launch of Dong Fang Hong I, China's first satellite, and chief designer of Chinese storable propellant rocket engine. He was also the chief designer for Long March 3 launch vehicle, Fengyun, and SJ (Shijian) series satellites.
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 the man considered the founder of China's aerospace industry, Qian Xuesen. They were granted the Two Bombs and One Satellite Merit Medal in 1999. Ren was elected a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1980.
Ren Xinmin was born on 5 December 1915 in Ningguo, Anhui Province. When he was a student at a junior middle school, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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; he was nicknamed the "Chief Chief Engineer (总总师)".
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.