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China's reusable experimental spacecraft returns to Earth

By Zhao Lei | | Updated: 2023-05-08 09:02
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China's reusable experimental spacecraft returned to Earth on Monday morning after completing a 276-day orbital journey, according to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country's northwestern desert.

The test's success marks a major breakthrough in China's reusable spacecraft technology, which will provide a convenient and affordable commuting method between outer space and Earth, it said in a brief news release.

The spaceship was launched by a Long March 2F carrier rocket at the Jiuquan center on Aug 5, 2022. It was tasked with verifying reusable technologies and in-orbit service technologies, laying a technological foundation for the peaceful use of space, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's leading space contractor.

The mission is the second time that China has made public operations of its reusable experimental spacecraft.

The country's previous orbital test of a trial vehicle took place in September 2020, with the craft traveling for just under two days in orbit.

According to experts, reusable spacecraft will have a wide range of applications such as carrying out space tours for civilians, transporting astronauts, resupplying space stations and placing satellites into orbit at lower cost.

China's space contractors have been studying and demonstrating reusable technologies for their space programs for several years.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the two largest suppliers of rockets and spacecraft in the nation, are running their own programs that share the same goal - making their space products reusable - to reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.

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