The mysterious Chinese spacecraft returns to Earth after 276 days in orbit | world news

An experimental Chinese spacecraft has returned to Earth after remaining in orbit for 276 days, Chinese state media reported.

The spacecraft has completed a historic mission to test the country’s reusable space technologies, the report adds.

State media said the uncrewed spacecraft had returned to the Jiuquan launch center in the northwest China as expected.

The spacecraft was first launched in early August 2022, however, no details were given on what the spacecraft was, what technologies were tested and how high it flew in space.

Images of the craft have not yet been made public.

A “significant” step forward

The test marks a “significant” breakthrough in Chinese research into reusable spacecraft technology that will provide a more practical and inexpensive way to mount future space missions, state media said.

In 2021, a similar spacecraft capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere lifted off and returned to Earth on the same day, which China said was a big step towards developing space transportation technology. reusable.

It landed on Earth “horizontally”, according to China’s top space contractor at the time.

Some have speculated on social media that Beijing is developing a spacecraft like the US Air Force’s X-37B, an autonomous spaceplane that can stay in orbit for years.

The unmanned, reusable X-37B returned to Earth in November last year on its sixth mission after more than 900 days in orbit.

“This mission [X-37B] underscores Space Force’s emphasis on collaboration in space exploration and expanding low-cost access to space for our partners, inside and outside the Department of Air Force (DAF),” said General Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations.

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Last year, China also launched three astronauts to its unfinished space station for six months of construction work.

At the time, crew members Chen Dong, Can Xuzhe, and Liu Yang took off and headed for their mission.

In December last year, the crew returned home safely, appearing in high spirits as they cheerfully waved to workers at the landing site.

Mr. Chen, who was the first to step out of the capsule, said: “I am very fortunate to have witnessed the completion of the basic structure of the Chinese space station after six busy and fulfilling months in the world. ‘space.

“Like meteors, we have returned to the embrace of the homeland.”


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