China has launched a top-secret suborbital vehicle for the reusable space transport system

China has launched a top-secret suborbital vehicle for the reusable space transport system

As part of constructing the reusable space transportation program, China completed a covert first flight test of the reusable suborbital vehicle that was held on Friday. On Friday, the vehicle launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It landed at an airstrip in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, a little over 800 kilometers distant, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

There were no photos, video, or more details, such as flight length, height, or propulsion systems, provided. According to the CASC statement, the vehicle has a VTHL profile and uses a combination of aviation and space technology (vertical takeoff and the horizontal landing).

The test comes after a test flight of a “reusable experimental spacecraft” in September 2020. This spacecraft orbited for days then deorbited and landed horizontally after discharging a small transmitting payload. Though no photographs have surfaced, the spacecraft is widely assumed to be a recyclable spaceplane design.

CASC, a major space and defense contractor, created that vehicle as well and claimed that the new vehicle evaluated on Friday could be utilized as the initial stage of the reusable space transportation system. It’s assumed that these two vehicles will be joined to create a fully reusable space transit system.

The changes haven’t happened out of anywhere. In 2017, China said that it planned to test the reusable spaceplane by 2020. The X-37B spaceplane of the United States Air Force is currently on its sixth mission in orbit. Another VTHL proposal, the Experimental Spaceplane (XSP) program, commonly known as XS-1 program, was cancelled by Boeing last year.

The new test comes only days after Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully transported people to the space’s edge for the first time. In 2017, the CASC published a ‘space transportation roadmap’ that includes a spaceplane project. Fully reusable launch vehicles were also planned, as well as a nuclear-powered shuttle for roughly 2045.

According to Chen Hongbo of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s CALT (China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology), the reusable spaceship will be able of carrying both personnel and payloads, according to Science and Technology Daily (Chinese) in 2017. Some vehicles, according to Chen, will have features of both aviation and spacecraft. The creator of suborbital reusable demonstration vehicle on Friday was CALT.

Chen indicated that the goal was to achieve full reusability, as opposed to the partial reusability of Falcon 9-style launchers. The spaceplane, whose development and testing are finished by 2030, should be reusable more than 20 times. It will be geared to orbital heights of 300-500 kilometers, meet “fast, dependable, and economical” standards, fulfill the demand of military and commercial payloads, and serve as an excellent choice for space tourism.

Space Technology