Here’s what to know about the mysterious reusable spacecraft China launched yesterday

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Amid heightened tensions over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has launched a mysterious reusable spacecraft. a pitcher Long March 2F Take off from the Te Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center the desert Gobir, August 4, a ” Reusable Experimental Spacecraft » inside orbit Land bus successfully, Chinese state media reports Xinhua.

Surprisingly, the Chinese space authority did not release any images of the launch and did not reveal any details about the nature or characteristics of the spacecraft. They also didn’t specify if this is the second flight of the spacecraft that flew in September 2020 or a new vehicle, which would still be very surprising. The vehicle, launched on Thursday, is expected to operate in orbit “for some time” before returning to Chinese soil. Typically, it should stay in orbit longer than the spacecraft that flew two days in orbit in September 2020.

18e The US Space Force Space Defense Squadron tracked the spacecraft in a 346 by 593 km orbit, inclined at 50 degrees.

Although little is known about the spacecraft, previous statements and actions suggest that it is an unmanned spacecraft that could be launched as soon as possible. next year. It is believed that this spacecraft is China’s answer US Air Force X-37B Which, meanwhile, is currently performing its sixth mission with a total of over 800 days in orbit!

China successfully tests mysterious flying spacecraft

Article of Remy Decourt Published on 09/10/2020

China, which has made no secret of its ambitions for reusable spaceflight, has launched a mysterious unmanned spacecraft for a two-day orbital mission. This machine is clearly the forerunner of an operational reusable space vehicle. But which ones, because China has several secret programs of this nature.

China prudently conducted an experiment Reusable space drones Similar to the American X-37B. The machine was launched on the Long March 2F launcher on Friday, September 4. After a two-day orbital flight monitored by the United States Space Surveillance Network, it returned to Earth. It landed on Sunday, as it was launched, at a secret air base near the Lop Nor nuclear test range.

Surprisingly, no official information about the launch of the spacecraft used and its mission has been released. A press release was limited to the fact that the spacecraft must “be used for” Examine technologies related to recycling for peaceful use of space ” It should be noted that there was an unusual level of security surrounding this launch so that no photos or videos of the launch and the vehicle were released. social communication.

Several Chinese spaceplane programs

We remember that in 2017 China announced its intention to test a reusable space vehicle in 2020 to obtain a machine with logistical and operational capabilities similar to the X-37B. The world’s only reusable space vehicle, the X-37B still arouses much curiosity and concern Confidentiality That surrounds his mission. And to the chagrin of the Russians and Chinese who suspect, rightly so, that the Americans’ use of military vehicles is not as scientific and peaceful as they’d like it to be. The spacecraft returns to space in May 2020 The sixth mission.

As for this Chinese spacecraft, without any information about its main characteristics (shape, dimensions, engines, orbital capabilities, etc.), we can only assume that it is a vehicle from a known space program. It may be so Space version of Shenlong orAotian space plane Announced by CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation) in November 2017. Finally, it is not excluded that this vehicle is a Demonstrator In terms of orbital flight and atmospheric reentry, all are similarly well advanced, prefiguring an operational space vehicle. Then continue.

If you are interested in this topic, we recommend you read it Furious Dragon, Chinese Space Plane. Written by Philippe Quay, a French expert on the Chinese space program, it is published by Edition L’Haramattan.

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