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Space & Astronomy

China's mystery space plane has landed after 276 days in orbit

By T.K. Randall
May 10, 2023 · Comment icon 7 comments

What has China's space plane been up to ? Image Credit: NASA
China's answer to the X-37B has returned to Earth once again after nearly a year of unspecified activities in space.
Officially part of China's efforts to develop reusable spaceflight technologies, the space plane has long remained something of an enigma.

In reality, it is likely to perform a similar role to the X-37b - a secretive spaceplane originally developed by NASA before being handed over to the US Department of Defense - which has itself conducted numerous secretive missions into space lasting up to several years at a time.

Last year, China's space plane made headlines when the US Space Force's 18th Space Defense Squadron reported that it had unexpectedly changed orbit and had deployed an unknown object.
Some speculated that it could have been some sort of monitoring satellite or test payload, while others believed that it was likely to be a service module.

As things stand, no definitive answer has been forthcoming.

While China has not disclosed where the vehicle landed, it was likely to have been at the Lop Nur military base in Xinjiang.

In all likelihood, it will launch again on another secretive mission within the not-too-distant future.

Source: Space News | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 months ago
Following quote copied from this thread: How does it sound a heck of a lot like the shuttle? No one outside of China (and possibly the U.S. intelligence community) knows what it looks like (although it's rough size can be deduced) or what its mission is. That leaves us with the following deion: "it's a spaceplane that lands on a runway". That deion could also apply to the NASA X-15 research aircraft/spacecraft of the 1960's or the cancelled USAF X-20 Dyna-Soar of the 1960's or the Russian Buran or Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo or Sierra Space's Dream Chaser... the list is rather long. What it... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by razman 12 months ago
I didn't even notice there was a thread for this. It just seems to me , a lot of the space stuff china does mirrors NASA.Its like they're trying to outdo them or something. Not saying the plane looks like the shuttle , just the idea of the function of it is similar, i mean , its not a big secret or anything , just sayin.
Comment icon #3 Posted by razman 12 months ago
I mean , who else has rovers on mars? 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 months ago
You wouldn't have, this is what I said:   A lot of stuff NASA did (and still does) mirrored that of the Soviet Union/Russia. The entire Apollo moon programme was trying (and succeeding) to out do the Soviet Union. Is their an actual point that you are trying to make because the concept of scientific and technical progress seems to have eluded you? Things that have similar functions have similar forms. Pretty much all cars have 4 wheels, that doesn't mean all car companies are copying each other. Again are you actually trying to make an intelligent point? There are three ways that you can expl... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 12 months ago
China’s spaceplane conducted proximity and capture maneuvers with subsatellite, data suggests  
Comment icon #6 Posted by razman 12 months ago
Yea , i get it , they stole the idea from Nasa .  i have no scientific data to add , i just chimed in to accuse China of copying  something. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by razman 12 months ago
Can't seem to find a pic of the thing , they hide it that well?

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