China sends mysterious 'reusable test ship' into space

Xinhua News Agency reported the successful launch of the Long March 2F rocket with a test

spacecraft as a payload. The rocket was launched from the Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi desert on the morning of August 5.

According to journalists, the test spacethe craft will remain in orbit for a period of time before returning to its scheduled landing site in China. The space mission will test reusable and in-orbit technologies.

China State News Agencyinforms about the purpose of the ship, it is only indicated that the mission is needed for technical support for the use of space for peaceful purposes. While not much is known about the spacecraft, based on previous statements and actions, analysts at SpaceNews have speculated that it is a space plane.

China previously announced the launch of a reusabletest spacecraft in September 2020. That mission was also surrounded by secrecy. Perhaps we are talking about testing the same project.

Artistic illustration of the Boeing X-37B orbital plane. Image: NASA

Long March 2F usually sends mannedmissions to the Chinese space station. This launch vehicle has a payload capacity of just over 8 metric tons when placing objects into low Earth orbit. Based on this data, analysts believe the "research module" could be similar in size and function to the Boeing X-37B spaceplane.

Previously, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced plans to develop low-cost and reliable access to space, including reusable launch vehicles and a space plane.

Cover image: Long March 2F rocket on launch pad. Photo: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

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