China’s reusable experimental spacecraft launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday, successfully returned to its predetermined landing site on Sunday.
A Sputnik report stated that the reusable spaceship was launched on a Long March 2F carrier rocket.
The thriving return marks a significant breakthrough in China’s research on reusable spacecraft technology, which will provide a more convenient and economical way for the peaceful use of space, state-run CGTN TV reported.
Chinese military officials, who were tight-lipped about the launch earlier, said there were many firsts in this launch. “The spacecraft is new, the launch method is also different,” they claimed.
An official, quoted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Sunday, declined to comment on the details of the mission but suggested, “Maybe you can take a look at the US X-37B.”
The X-37B is an unmanned space plane that operates like a smaller version of the space shuttle, which is launched by a rocket and cruises back to earth for a runway landing. It has flown four classified missions to date, carrying secret payloads on long-duration flights in Earth orbit, the report noted.
Friday’s launch comes weeks after China launched Tianwen-1, the country’s first Mars mission, from Hainan, in late July.
A month before that, China completed the network of satellites for its BeiDou navigation network, a competitor to the Global Positioning System (GPS) system of the United States.