China lands its secretive space plane after 9 months in orbit – DNyuz

China lands its secretive space plane after 9 months in orbit

China’s mysterious reusable space plane landed on Monday, after 276 days in Earth’s orbit.

The mission lasted nine months, the longest ever for this new spacecraft. Andrew Jones ,, a space journalist specializing in China’s space program ., said that the new plane had only flown into orbit for two days before.

Though the recent flight was long, China’s statements about the space plane have been short, with no details about the objectives of the flight, the specifications of the spacecraft, or the maneuvers it performed in orbit.

“The experiment’s success marks an important milestone in China’s research into reusable spacecraft technology, and will lead to more affordable and convenient round-trips for peaceful space use in the future,” Chinese State News Agency Xinhua announced in a short announcement made on Monday.

The space plane’s maker, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), reshared the Xinhua statement on the social media platform Weixin.

Xinhua reported that the “experimental” spacecraft touched down at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Jones reports that satellite images and orbital data suggest the landing took place at Lop Nur Military Base in the adjacent province of Xinjiang to the west.

Reusable space planes are nothing new. NASA’s Space Shuttles may be the best-known example. More recently, billionaire Richard Branson flew to orbit aboard a Virgin Galactic space plane.

In the absence of photos or details from China, multiple news outlets have suggested that the Chinese space plane may resemble the X-37B space plane developed by Boeing for the US military.

This vehicle was flown 6 times. Its longest flight lasted nearly 3 years. The mission consisted of testing new hardware, and running NASA experiments.

The Chinese space plane took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in August 2022 and in October mysteriously ejected something into orbit, according to

Overall, China has been ramping up its space presence over the last decade, with a series of moon missions, its own space station in Earth’s orbit, and a landmark Mars mission that featured an orbiter, a lander, and a rover — the first-ever Martian trifecta.

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