China claims first reusable spacecraft in a secret mission

China claims first reusable spacecraft in a secret mission
The spacecraft was launched using a Chinese Long March 2F rocket. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: Ever since China claimed success in the secretive launch of an experimental spacecraft, many experts have been weighing over what it could be and what it did in space.

The spacecraft was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northern China on 4 September and safely returned to Earth after two days in orbit. It was mounted on a Long March 2F rocket.

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said on 6 September in a brief report: “The successful flight marked the country’s important breakthrough in reusable spacecraft research and is expected to offer convenient and low-cost round-trip transport for the peaceful use of space.”

But unlike recent Chinese high-profile space missions, very few details have been told about the vehicle and no visuals have been released.

Chinese authorities have disclosed very little about the nature of the short-duration excursion and what technologies were tested.

The exact launch and landing times were not disclosed, nor was the landing site although it is thought to be northwest China’s Taklamakan Desert.

A military source told South China Morning Post (SCMP): “There are many firsts in this launch. The spacecraft is new, the launch method is also different. That’s why we need to make sure there is extra security.”

An official memo circulating on social media also warned visitors and staff to the launch site not to film the lift-off or discuss it online, the SCMP reported.

The launch of the vehicle may have come as a surprise as there was no official announcement prior to the launch. But in the past decade, China has been working on such technology. China said three years ago it would launch a space vessel in 2020 that “will fly into the sky like an aircraft” and be reusable.

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