Bartis HK - State media say China launched a pilot reusable spacecraft

In what China described as a significant step toward creating reusable space transportation technology
CENTRAL, Hong Kong - Aug. 17, 2023 - PRLog -- A Chinese spacecraft capable of travelling beyond the edge of the atmosphere lifted off and returned to Earth on the same day.

According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the country's major space contractor, the spacecraft blasted off from a launch facility in northwest China on Friday and completed its mission according to "set procedures."

It then landed "horizontally" on Earth, according to CASC.

A spacecraft capable of reaching suborbital space should be able to go up to 100 km (62 miles) above the Earth's surface. The CASC made no mention of the spacecraft's altitude or flight route. There were no images of the spacecraft or its journey.

"The development of reusable space transportation technology is an important symbol of China's transition from a 'big' space-faring nation to a 'powerful' space-faring one," CASC added.

Because of its reusability, reusable spacecraft would allow for more frequent trips and cheaper mission expenses.

China sent an experimental spacecraft into orbit on a rocket in September of last year. After two days in orbit on its low-key mission, the spacecraft returned to Earth.

Commentators on Chinese social media suggested that Beijing is working on a spacecraft similar to the US Air Force's X-37B, an autonomous spaceplane that can stay in orbit for extended periods of time before returning to Earth on its own.

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