China's reusable spacecraft | How will it change space travel?

China launches secretive 'reusable experimental spacecraft'

China launches secretive 'reusable experimental spacecraft'

On September 6, Chinese media reported that an experimental reusable spacecraft, launched into orbit two days ago by China, has successfully returned to its designated landing site on September 6.

Featured image: The Long March-5 Y2 rocket takes off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China July 2, 2017. "It will test reusable technologies during its flight, providing technological support for the peaceful use of space".

Unfortunately, we have very little information about the reusable spacecraft, and media is yet to release any photos of the landing. No details were given on the technologies that had been tested.

Friday's launch comes weeks after China launched Tianwen-1, the country's first Mars mission.

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Considering a single rocket launch can cost tens of millions of dollars, reusable parts are meant to allow companies - or in this case countries - to potentially lower the cost of a launch.

Those who are involved with the subject, including commentators have compared the aircraft to US Air Force's X-37B, an autonomous space plane built by Boeing that can remain in orbit for long periods of time before flying back to Earth on its own, the Telegraph reported. NASA's Space Shuttle was the first partially reusable launch vehicle, but it failed to make the launch process any cheaper than expendable launch systems.

The US and the former Soviet Union both flew reusable spacecraft - the US space shuttle flew 134 missions from the 1980s until 2011, after which the US military developed the X-37, a robot glider that made its sixth flight in May.

The Soviet spacecraft, Buran, orbited the Earth twice during its single flight in 1988.

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