China succeeded in landing a reusable spacecraft back on Earth, after two days into orbit.
The spacecraft dubbed Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi (CSSHQ) was sent on a Long March-2F carrier from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center northwest China, on September 4. CSSHQ stayed in orbit for two days and then returned as scheduled to Jiuquan on Sunday (September 6).
Xinhua, the government’s news agency, has published a few details about this secretive Chinese military project. Here is what you need to know.
China’s Latest Space Projects: a Successful Landing and More Mission
China’s recent space project included CSSHQ, a reusable spacecraft that spent two days into orbit and successfully returned on Earth. CSSHQ now has many chances to become the country’s first reusable spacecraft, which is quite intriguing because only a few companies have developed reusable spaceplanes.
A single rocket launch can cost up to tens of millions of dollars. Reusable components are intended to allow space agencies to lower the cost of a lift-off mission. But it’s important to note that despite best intentions, the reusability of spacecraft and its components don’t necessarily mean that they’ll cost less.
NASA’s Space Shuttle, for instance, was the first partially reusable spacecraft. Unfortunately, it failed to make the launch process less expensive than expendable launch systems.
Long March-2F is the non-reusable rocket utilized to send CSSHQ into orbit. China used so far this design to lift-off 14 missions since 1999, and for the crewed missions since 2003. More information about the reusable spacecraft is still scarce. The media should release more images and details in the coming months.
An excerpt of Xinhua’s statement says: “The successful flight marked the country’s important breakthrough in reusable spacecraft research; […] is expected to offer convenient and low-cost round trip transport for the peaceful use of the space.” More successful missions are much-awaited.
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