In May 1961, the Science and Technology Commission for National Defence ordered CAS to characterise atmospheric temperature, pressure, density and winds up to an altitude of 100 kilometres. The basic T-7 model could conduct such surveys up to 58 km. In order to cover the higher alititudes, in January 1962 design of an improved T-7A model was authorised. This design requirement was to take a payload of 40 kilograms to 115 kg altitude. Both the separable payload section and the rocket were designed to be recovered by parachute and reused. This would allow biological, radiation sniffing, and geophysical experiments to be carried.
In January 1963, the Shanghai Institute of Electro-mechanical Design was subordinated to put under the administration of the Qian's Fifth Academy of the Defence Ministry. This may have been a power play, or may have been related to the pending use of the rockets to recover high-altitude samples in support of Chinese atmospheric nuclear tests. The first launch of the T-7A in December 1963 resulted in successful retrieval of the rocket and payload.
The Peace-1 geophysics payload, co-developed in 1959 by the Fifth Academy and CAS, led to a successful survey of electron density in the ionosphere aboard the T-7A. The general design and development of the system was by the CAS Institute of Geophysics. In 1965 the Fifth Academy was redesignated the Seventh Ministry of the Machine-building Industry and the former Shanghai Institute for Electro-mechanical Design became the Eighth Institute of that Ministry. In December 1965, under the joint sponsorship of the Eighth Institute and the CAS Institute of Geophysics, data was acquired regarding the equivalent electron density of the rocket exhaust plume up to 90 kilometres in altitude. In another test, a special Geiger counter for the measurement of high-altitude cosmic rays returned superb results. Based on the Doppler effect, a system of ionospheric measurement was designed. This work provided a solid foundation for tracking satellites in flight and the determination of their orbit parameters.
In 1963, the CAS Institute of Biophysics proposed the use of the T-7A for biological and high altitude medical research. In the following three years, a total of five launches were made, carrying white rats and mice, dogs, and test tubes containing fruit flies, toad eggs, actinomycete, and phycomycete and other fungi. On August 10, 1964, the Fifth Academy under the Ministry of National Defence sent a congratulatory letter to the CAS and its Institutes of Biophysics and Geophysics following the first flights.
The series culminated in a series of three T-7A rockets launched from Anhui during June 1965. The first carried a white rat, a white mouse, fruit flies, and other specimens. The second carried the male dog Xiao Bao and four white mice. The third carried the bitch Shanshan. All were successfully recovered. Film cameras recorded their behaviour under high G and zero-G conditions.
Given conditions in the country at the time, improvisation was necessary in devising the instrumentation. The behaviour of the specimens during the flight was filmed using a lightweight,, large-magazine camera. Ju Lang using the mechanism of an 8 mm Czech consumer model, loaded with Japanese 16 mm film, split by hand. Since the project was secret, the film was developed in a homemade developing machine. The film was released as part of a television documentary in the 1980's and proved a big hit with Chinese audiences.
The puppy passengers had to be no more than 6 kg in weight, with the proper disposition so as not to become frantic when confined in a closed space. The final selections came out of a pool of 30 experimental dogs. Through constant training and screening, the pool of 30 was reduced to six after five evaluations, and then finally to two. The puppies were trained gradually to accept confinement, spacesuits, noise, vibration, and physiological sensors. The biological sensors were surgically implanted prior to the launch.
Prior to the launch the militia in the adjacent countryside was alerted to report any sightings of parachute landings and to keep curious locals from opening the capsules. The first recovery took so long (approach had to the landing site had to be on foot) that the scientists feared for the health of the specimens. When the team finally reached the capsule, the cameraman set up his camera, loaded with exotic colour film, available only from East Germany. Then the capsule was opened and Xiao Bao jumped out of the hatch. The unrestrained mouse followed him. The Air Force agreed to provide a recovery helicopter for future biological capsule recoveries.
The successful test series culminated in the delivery of the male and female puppies and mice to the Institute of Biophysics. They dogs were later mated and produce healthy puppies.
Payload: 170 kg (370 lb) to a 60 km altitude or 40 kg to 115 km altitude.
Gross mass: 1,300 kg (2,800 lb).
Payload: 170 kg (370 lb).
Height: 10.00 m (32.00 ft).
Diameter: 0.45 m (1.47 ft).
Thrust: 46.00 kN (10,341 lbf).
Apogee: 60 km (37 mi).
First Launch: 1963.12.01.
Last Launch: 1969.07.01.
Number: 3 .