China has announced a new breakthrough related to space technology earlier this week, as the country launched an experimental spacecraft in secret with the help of a Long March 2F. The launch took place at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in northern China.
An official press statement shared by a popular state-run news agency notes that the mission is related to reusable spacecraft, and it was successful. It will facilitate low-cost missions that will be conducted by the Chinese space agency in the future.
The announcement is quite interesting, but there are some major details that remain elusive. The Chinese space agency has offered important details about recent missions in the past, but the recent launch took place in secret, and the press release is limited to mentioning that the mission has been successful.
According to a military source, the reason behind the secrecy is represented by the fact that the spacecraft and the launch method are new, and for now, it is important to keep the information confidential. China did mention a few years ago that a reusable spacecraft will be operational by 2020.
The advantage of reusability
A classic spacecraft becomes unusable after one flight, which can be quite daunting when significant amounts of money are spent on the development. The development of a reusable spacecraft would be a great boon, especially since the secret spacecraft managed to reach an altitude of 350 kilometers.
Some voices argue that the aim of the test was to evaluate key components of the spacecraft, including the power system, overall stability, and the ability to re-enter the atmosphere without problems. There are several purposes for which such a spacecraft could be used, including the transportation of goods and astronauts or maintenance orbit to the upcoming Chinese space station.
More details could be released in the future.