New Delhi: China claims to have successfully tested a secret “reusable” spacecraft amid a crisis along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India in Ladakh and confrontation with multiple nations in the South China Sea.
The Xinhua news agency on Sunday said that the vehicle returned to its “scheduled landing site” following a two-day mission in orbit after it was launched on a Long March 2F rocket on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert.
Beijing claimed that the “successful flight marked the country’s important breakthrough in reusable spacecraft research and is expected to offer convenient and low-cost round trip transport for the peaceful use of the space”.
An astronomer at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, using his Twitter handle speculated that the landing site may have been Taklamakan desert in northwest China.
On Monday, India’s DRDO successfully carried out the second test flight of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) using the indigenously developed scramjet propulsion system. It is a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles and will have multiple civilian applications, including the launching of small satellites at low cost. The previous flight in 2019 boosted to altitude on an Agni I first stage from Kalam Island, McDowell said.
The Chinese mission, which is shrouded in mystery comes at a time when Beijing and New Delhi are locked in a violent face-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
Last week, the Indian Army captured key ridges on the south bank of the Pangong Tso, in a tit-for-tat move, effectively taking control of all the strategic heights in the area along the LoC in Ladakh.
Incidentally, Chinese President Xi Jinping canceled his trip to Pakistan in a last-minute decision. Meanwhile, two Australian journalists facing security threat from the Chinese authorities, were evacuated from China in a diplomatic standoff. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review’s Mike Smith landed in Sydney on Tuesday.
As the US-China relationship has entered a Cold-War like situation, the Xi Jinping regime has deployed PLA Navy, China Coast Guard and maritime militia to claim its sovereignty over South China Sea.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic which originated in the Wuhan city of its Hubei province, Beijing has sent fishing boats into the waters adjacent to Indonesia’s Natuna Islands and deployed survey vessels into the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime has also created two new administrative districts in the disputed islands of the Paracels and Spratlys and carried out missile tests in the disputed area.