China’s Most Mysterious Space Aircraft Returns from 276-Day Mission
China’s reusable uncrewed spaceplane reportedly returned to Earth on Monday to complete its 276-day orbital mission. According to China, “full success” was achieved in the mission.
The mysterious reusable spacecraft completed its 276-day Earth-orbit mission by landing at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Monday (May 8), according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. Officials in China claimed the secret mission was a “complete success”.
Complete Success in Undercover Mission
“The success of the experiment marks a significant breakthrough in China’s research into reusable spacecraft technologies that will provide more accurate and cost-effective round-trip methods for the peaceful use of space in the future,” the Chinese media said. Which tests were carried out in this 276-day test mission is completely in a cloud of mystery.
China did not share any images of the secret space plane. Based on the payload capacity of the Long March 2F rocket that launched the spacecraft, experts estimated it could be roughly the same size and design as the US Air Force’s X-37B. The US military has been similarly secretive about the X-37B, which has performed six orbital missions, the longest of which took 909 days to date. On the other hand, it is known that China carried out the first test of this spacecraft in September 2020 and the tests lasted only 2 days. The US Space Force’s X-37B vehicle performed much longer autonomous missions.