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Popular sources, like Vintage Space and New Scientist, allege that the Chinese experimented with (oak?) wood ablative heat shields for manned reentry vehicles in the 1960s, but I have not been able to find any technical information.

Does anyone have translated English papers from the original project, or intelligence reports? Chinese documents would also be valuable, I would be willing to have them translated.

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    $\begingroup$ semi-unrelated: the primary active (ablative, as opposed to binder etc) component of SLA, the spray-on ablator used on the Shuttle tank and on Delta series rockets, is cork wood. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Take a look at this answer, there are some pix here too. For a tl;dr, search for "oak" in here: astronautix.com/f/fsw.html and open this book in books.google.com and search for "oak": China's Space Program - From Conception to Manned Spaceflight Here is the book also: springer.com/gp/book/9781852335663 $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Cork was used as part of the boost protection cover on Apollo, too $\endgroup$
    – Innovine
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 6:11

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Here is the wikipedia entry for the Chinese satellite. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanhui_Shi_Weixing

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