China's Mysterious Spacecraft Tests Well
Is It China's Version of the USAF X-37B Spaceplane?
|Source: USAF X-37B Spaceplane |
New Reusable Space Vehicle Shrouded in Mystery
China has successfully launched an experimental reusable spacecraft. It was deployed into orbit Friday onboard a Long March 2F rocket. The mystery space vehicle successfully landed at a designated location, presumably in China, today. The Chinese news agency Xinhua calls the space vehicle a breakthrough that will lead to more frequent round trips to space at a greatly reduced cost. The big question: is it China's version of the top secret, US Air Force X-37B spaceplane?
Low Key Mission with No Photos
The Chinese government has kept the mission very low key. No photos of the spacecraft have been distributed and no details provided on the technology involved. But there is a great deal of speculation that the vehicle may be the Chinese version of the USAF's top secret X-37B spaceplane. The X-37B is an autonomous spaceplane developed by Boeing that can remain in orbit for long periods of time before flying back to earth and landing under its own power.
China As a Growing Space Leader
China is a growing leader in space, alongside of the US, Russia and Europe, with its ambitious expeditions to the Moon and other explorations. Three years ago, the Chinese government said that it would launch a spacecraft in 2020 that flies like a plane and is reusable. It appears they fulfilled that forecast this weekend. At the moment, it is not clear that the spacecraft has fixed wings.