China’s Secret Spacecraft Releases Unknown Object Into Orbit

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China’s Secret Spacecraft Releases Unknown Object Into Orbit
Photo Credit: CASC

It has been around three months since China launched its top-secret spaceplane into orbit. The spacecraft has now released an unknown object that is now orbiting our planet behind the spaceplane, according to a SpaceNews report.

 

Not much is known about China’s reusable experimental spacecraft, apart from the fact that it escaped Earth’s gravity aboard a Long March 2F rocket in August. The world still doesn’t know the purpose behind its launch or what cargo the spaceplane was carrying when it took off, but it seems like an interesting development for China’s reusable launch system.

What Is The Mysterious Object?

The spaceplane released the unknown object into orbit sometime between October 24 and October 31, as per the tracking data studied by the US Space Force's 18th pace Defense Squadron.

But what it was exactly is anyone’s guess right now. Harvard astronomer and space tracker Jonathan McDowell believes that the mysterious object "may be a service module, possibly indicating an upcoming deorbit burn."

Depending on the size of payloads Long March rockets take with them, China’s spaceplane could resemble the Air Force's X-37B spaceplane, which is said to be on its sixth mission.

What Is China Planning With Its New Spaceplane?

There’s no word on when the Chinese spacecraft will return to the ground, but considering the recent developments at Lop Nur base in Xinjiang, captured in satellite imagery, the spaceplane could land there in the coming months, the report states.

China is being very secretive with its space ambitions, but the latest developments suggest its interest in affordable and reusable methods to launch payloads into orbit or its new space station.

China’s Growing Space Ambitions

Chinese researchers are leaving no stone unturned to put the country at the forefront of space research. Chinese scientists are now planning to send monkeys to its new Tiangong space station and likely reproduce.

These experiments will be carried out inside the space outpost’s largest capsule, called Wentian. The simians will be kept inside two expandable test cabins. While the experiment will determine the ability of complex life forms to reproduce in space, the crew aboard the space station could be faced with several hurdles including keeping the animals stress-free in zero gravity.

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