Beijing: China’s reusable experimental spacecraft, which was launched into orbit two days ago, successfully returned to its predetermined landing site on Sunday, according to the official state media.
The spacecraft was launched on board a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Friday.
The successful return marks an important breakthrough in China’s research on reusable spacecraft technology, which will provide a more convenient and economical way for the peaceful use of space, state-run CGTN TV reported.
Chinese military officials, who were tight-lipped about the launch earlier, said there were many firsts in this launch. “The spacecraft is new, the launch method is also different,” they said.
An official, quoted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Sunday, declined to comment on the details of the mission but suggested “maybe you can take a look at the US X-37B.”
The X-37B is an unmanned space plane that operates like a smaller version of the space shuttle, which is launched by a rocket and cruises back to earth for a runway landing.
It has flown four classified missions to date, carrying secret payloads on long-duration flights in Earth orbit, the Post report said.
Friday’s launch comes weeks after China launched Tianwen-1, the country’s first Mars mission, from Hainan in late July.
The China National Space Administration said its spacecraft, including an orbiter, lander and rover, was performing well on its way to Mars.
A month before that, China completed the network of satellites for its BeiDou navigation network, a competitor to the Global Positioning System (GPS) system of the US.