China launches reusable spacecraft and lands successfully

China’s Long March-2F carrier rocket during the 2016 launch.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

Guangzhou, China – China has successfully launched and landed an experimental reusable spacecraft, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency that has hailed the feat as a “significant success”.

The spacecraft was launched on a Long March-2F rocket from Jiuquan Launch Center in Inner Mongolia on Friday.

Xinhua said it spends two days in orbit and returns to the scheduled landing site on Sunday.

There are very few details on the project that appeared shredded in secrecy. There are no official images of the spacecraft.

Xinhua called the incident a “significant breakthrough” in the research of reusable spacecraft technology in China that could provide a “more convenient and cheaper” way to travel back and forth from space for “peaceful” purposes.

Reusable spacecraft are seen as a way to reduce the cost of space travel. The US has an unmanned reusable spacecraft called the X-37B that has already completed a handful of missions.

China is pushing for the development of its space program and has had some notable successes.

The country completed its Beidou satellite system in June, which is seen as a rival to the US government-owned Global Positioning System (GPS). And in July, China began its first solo mission on Mars.

Last year, China became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the so-called dark side of the moon.


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