China successfully landed its top-secret test spacecraft after a two-day mission, state news agency Xinhua said, adding that “significant progress has been made in research into spacecraft reusable technology.”
According to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP), an official memo warned staff and viewers attending the Sept. 4 launch not to take video recordings or pictures of the lift-off, and to avoid talking about the event online.
However, a report from the state-run media outlet CGTN revealed that the vehicle was launched from the Inner Mongolia’s Jukan Satellite Launch Center on a Long March-2F rocket (pictured below a different mission), the spacecraft said. A runway landing on Sunday.
Very little is known about the Chinese spacecraft, although Xinhua said it would “provide more convenient and cheaper transportation for the peaceful use of space in the future.”
Lintao thigh / gate images
When the SCMP previously asked for more information about the spacecraft, a military source indicated that “perhaps you can take a look at the X-373B in the United States.”
The unveiled X-33B looks like a smaller version of the space shuttle. As much as we know about the X-3BB, China’s new spacecraft, the United States also has a lot of details attached to its vehicle. The U.S. Air Force says its spacecraft has two primary purposes: “to invent reusable spacecraft technology for the future of America in space, and operating tests that could return to Earth, and be tested,” but it offers some more concrete details.
The X-373B, which recently bagged an honorary trophy for “Progress for the Performance, Efficiency and Safety of Aircraft and Space Vehicles”, is in orbit on its sixth mission since launching the ULA Atlas V rocket in May 2020. Its fifth mission, which ended 780 days later in low-Earth orbit in October 2019, broke its own record for spending 63 days apart.
This may be the early days for China’s secret spacecraft, but its recent voyages, other ambitious missions such as the moon and recently landed on Mars, are further evidence of the country’s growing interest in space technology.