Chinese Long March-2F launch boosted experimental space plane.
Credit: file pic


Dribs and drabs best characterize news regarding China’s reusable experimental spacecraft program.

Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/Xinhua News Agency/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

A Long March-2F launch vehicle launched the craft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, northwest China, on September 4, 2020 followed by a September 6th landing, possibly at a lengthy airstrip near China’s Lop Nor nuclear test site.

According to Chinese media outlets, the vehicle is called Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi (reusable experimental spacecraft).

Image from 2017 shows the Shenlong space vehicle attached to Xian H-6 bomber. Source: Chinese Internet

Road map

Meanwhile, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that the experimental spacecraft might be linked to the Shenlong (Divine Dragon) space plane project that has been in development for more than two decades.

A SCMP article notes that, under that program, the first reusable spacecraft launch was slated for 2020 under a “space transport road map” released three years ago by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CAST).

Tengfei-1 reusable aerospace vehicle.
Credit: Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Tengfei-1 releases satellite.
Credit: Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Flight tests

Tengfei-1 is another reusable aerospace vehicle, developed under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

Roughly two years ago, the Tengfei-1 spaceplane reportedly completed flight tests with combined power, the first flight test in China that had realized “mode conversion of combined power.”

Credit: Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Tengfei-1 was touted at the time as useful for space tourism, astronaut transportation, satellite launching and space emergency rescue.



















Go to this recently released, albeit cryptic, video regarding the recent Earth orbital flight of China’s reusable vehicle at:

Also, go to this older video (2018) depicting the Tengfei-1 project at:

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