An experimental Chinese spacecraft landed in orbit again yesterday, after a two-day voyage. That is what the Chinese state press agency Xinhua reports.
Xinhua said the mission was a success. The launch is a “breakthrough” when it comes to reusable space planes and should enable cheap and low-threshold space travel in the future, reports the news agency.
The aircraft was put into orbit from the launch base near the city of Jiuquan with a Long Mars-2F launch missile, which is often used by China in space missions.
Furthermore, a lot is unclear around the Chinese spacecraft. For example, no photos have been released. Also, China hadn’t announced the launch.
Possibly it concerns the spacecraft that was announced by Xinhua three years ago. The vessel could “take off like an airplane”.
According to experts it may be the Chinese counterpart of the equally mysterious Boeing X-37B, the U.S. Army’s unmanned and reusable spacecraft. The European space agency ESA is also working with the Space Rider on a similar spacecraft.
Ambitious space program
In recent years China has set up an ambitious space programme. For example, the Chang’e 4 was the first ever to land on the back of the moon, and this year the Chang’e 5 is to bring a shovel of lunar soil to Earth.
In July, the country sent a spacecraft with the Tianwen-1 to Mars. It should arrive at the red planet in the spring of 2021.