According to its state media, Xinhua news, China was able to launch a reusable experimental spacecraft.
It appears that everything went according to plan, as China confirms that the said spacecraft was able to return on Sunday as scheduled. Before returning, it reportedly did a two-day operation.
China made an “important breakthrough”
The state media outlet further noted that this operation was an “important breakthrough.” This “successful flight” paved the way to the country’s “reusable spacecraft research.”
This will allow China to “to offer convenient and low-cost round trip transport” to space for “peaceful” purposes.
The said spacecraft took off on September 4 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, which is in northwest China. Accordingly, it launched with a ” Long March-2F carrier rocket.”
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) September 5, 2020
Little information known from the “breakthrough”
Due to its lack of information or publicity, it appears that the project was “shrouded in secrecy.” The news outlet highlights that no official images of the said spacecraft are made available for viewing.
The same point was highlighted by CNN, noting that the launch mission was unmanned.
“The Chinese report drew widespread speculation that Beijing had launched something akin to the United States Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV),” the news outlet highlights.
The X-37B is the United States’ unmanned reusable spacecraft, says CNN. It has completed a “handful of missions” as well. It has the primary objectives to, first, be a reusable technology for the U.S. in space in the future. Second, be able to operate experiments, “which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.”
🇺🇸#US confirms 🇨🇳#China has launched what could be Its version of the X-37B Spaceplane. The reusable experimental spacecraft was launched into #space on a secret mission from Inner Mongolia earlier today.https://t.co/znvZRdHYpE
— Lokman Karadag 洛克曼 (@LokmanKaradag1) September 5, 2020
China steadfast in its space program
Although, it should be noted that China has since been “accelerating its space program” in the last decade. Its government is reportedly deep in investment—by billions of dollars, as it turns out—for this program.
There have been missions done before this. China recorded its first unmanned mission in July, which was directed to the Red Planet—Mars.
Beijing has also sent an unmanned rover to the “far side of the moon,” per CNN. Or the “dark side of the moon,” as CNBC has put it.
Furthermore, China completed its Beidou satellite system back in June. This is reportedly a rival to the U.S.’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
It looks like the China and U.S. rivalry far more than many would ever imagine.
Featured image courtesy of MorrisonMike/Shutterstock