China tests its first reusable spacecraft

(ORDO NEWS) — The Celestial Empire every year demonstrates more and more impressive successes in the field of space exploration. It seems, recently the whole world marveled at the photographs, which made the “Jade Hare” on the Moon, but already in 2020 the Chinese space program comprehends the most ” trendy” line – returning from orbit its first reusable spacecraft.

In the 21st century, the rocket and space industry smoothly moved from the paradigm of overcoming natural restrictions and the constant race for the titles of pioneers into a purely economic channel: rockets and ships are becoming the most efficient, primarily economically. Any rocket, orbital “truck” or passenger capsule, developed today, is created with a mandatory “sight” for reusable use – even if not immediately, but only after several test flights of the first versions.

On Friday, September 4, an experimental reusable spacecraft was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China using the Long March 2F launch vehicle (CZ-2F, Changzheng-2F). This is the first device of its kind created in the country and, as writes the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, he successfully completed his mission, returning to Earth two days later in orbit.

As is usually the case with news about Chinese astronautics, details are scarce. It is stated that during the flight, the technologies of the reusable spacecraft were investigated. The end of the mission was summed up in the media with a general phrase that this development is a significant breakthrough in the creation of such devices and is also expected to lead to the emergence of cheap means of delivery of goods and people into orbit. That’s all.

At the moment, there are no photos of the ship, as there are no more or less reliable technical characteristics. In English-language sources, it is referred to as Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi (which is simply a transcription of the Chinese phrase “experimental reusable spacecraft”) or CSSHQ. Based on the known data on the carrying capacity of Changzheng-2F, we can assume its maximum weight – no more than 8.5 tons. Also known are the parameters of the orbit into which the reusable spacecraft was launched on Friday: almost circular, 340 kilometers high and with an inclination of 50.2 degrees.

There are speculations that it was not just a capsule that can be reused like SpaceX Dragon and Boeing Starliner, but a spaceplane shuttle. There is no evidence of this, but if something similar to the Soviet “Spiral” or the American Dream Chaser with the X-37B was developed in the Celestial Empire, this is really a fantastic breakthrough for Chinese astronautics.


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