China has taken a significant step towards developing reusable space transportation technology with the successful launch and landing of a spacecraft on the same day. The Chinese spacecraft was capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere, and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the country’s main space contractor, confirmed that it followed set procedures during its flight.
The spacecraft lifted off from a launch center in northwest China, and the CASC reported that it landed back on Earth “horizontally.” While the CASC did not provide any visuals or elaborate on its flight path, a spacecraft capable of flying to suborbital space should be able to travel as high as 100 km (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface.
In a statement, the CASC emphasized that the development of reusable space transportation technology is a significant step towards China’s transition from a ‘big’ space-faring nation to a ‘powerful’ space-faring one. With reusable spacecraft, China could perform missions more frequently and lower mission costs due to the reusability of the spacecraft.
Last year, China sent an experimental spacecraft into orbital space on a rocket, and the spacecraft returned to Earth after two days in orbit on a low-key mission. There has been speculation on Chinese social media that Beijing has been developing a spacecraft like the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B, an autonomous spaceplane capable of staying in orbit for extended periods before returning to Earth on its own.
It is unknown if both the suborbital and orbital spacecraft launched by China had fixed wings like the U.S. Space Shuttle. However, the successful flight and landing of a spacecraft capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere mark a significant achievement for China’s space program.
With this successful launch, China has joined the list of nations, including the U.S. and Russia, that have developed and launched reusable spacecraft. As China continues to expand its space program, it is likely that we will see more technological advances and significant achievements in the coming years.
In conclusion, China’s successful launch and landing of a spacecraft capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere on the same day is a significant step towards developing reusable space transportation technology. This achievement marks a transition for China from a ‘big’ space-faring nation to a ‘powerful’ space-faring one, and it is likely that we will see more significant technological advancements from China’s space program in the future.