China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation did not specify the altitude of the spacecraft or its flight path, nor did it provide the visual effects of the mission.
A Chinese spacecraft capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere took off and returned to Earth on the same day. China said this was a big step towards the development of reusable space transportation technology.
The country’s main aerospace contractor, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), said the spacecraft lifted off from a launch center in northwest China on Friday and completed the flight in accordance with “established procedures.”
CASC said in a statement that it then landed “horizontally” on Earth.
A spacecraft that can fly into suborbital space should be able to fly to an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the earth’s surface. CASC did not specify how high the spacecraft flew, nor did it specify its flight path. No visual effects of the spacecraft or its flight are provided.
“The development of reusable space transportation technology is an important symbol of China’s transformation from a major aerospace power to a powerful aerospace power,” said China Aerospace Corporation.
Due to its reusability, reusable spacecraft will lead to higher mission frequencies and lower mission costs.
In September last year, China used a rocket to send an experimental spacecraft into orbital space.
The spacecraft returned to Earth after performing a low-key mission in orbit for two days.
Commentators on Chinese social media speculate that Beijing has been developing a spacecraft similar to the X-37B of the U.S. Air Force, an autonomous spacecraft that can stay in orbit for a long time before flying back to Earth on its own.
It is not clear whether the orbital and suborbital spacecraft launched by China have fixed wings like the US space shuttle.