Possible design of China’s space plane.
Source: Homem do Espaco/Twitter


That Chinese space plane launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on the night of August 4-5 by a Long March 2F rocket is being assessed by satellite watchers.

Marco Langbroek in the Netherlands has posted some interesting details via his SatTrackCam Leiden (b)log.

Credit: Marco Langbroek

“The re-usable experimental spacecraft was launched into a 346 x 593 km, 50-degree inclined orbit. The orbital inclination is similar to the September 2020 test launch: the orbital altitude is however different this time,” Langbroek reports. “The 2020 test flight was in a 331 x 347 km orbit: the current flight is in a more eccentric orbit with higher apogee altitude (at almost 600 km, or 250 km higher than in 2020).”

Langbroek adds that eight objects have been catalogued associated with the space plane’s launch: the craft itself, the rocket’s upper stage, four chunks of debris, and perhaps secondary payloads. “They could perhaps be test targets to retrieve, or ‘inspector’ satellites to check the outside of the spacecraft. We’ll see what happens.”

Credit: Marco Langbroek

Lop Nor landing strip

How long the orbiter will stay in space on this flight is unknown and whether or not the vehicle will maneuver this time; the previous flight of the vehicle did not.

“When it lands, we expect that to be at the same landing site as in 2020, a remote landing strip near Lop Nor,” Langbroek notes.

In a related story, activity at a remote Chinese airstrip has been viewed by satellite before the space plane’s launch. Go to the story by Joseph Trevithick at The War Zone at:

Go to: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/activity-at-remote-chinese-airstrip-seen-before-spaceplane-launch

Also, go to Langbroek’s video showing a flyover of the space plane at:


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