China: Launch of Reusable Spacecraft

On August 4, 2022, China launched a reusable experimental spacecraft into orbit. It was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, on Long March 2F rocket. Spacecraft will be placed into low Earth orbit. A similar clandestine mission was launched by China in 2020.


  • Spacecraft will operate in orbit for some time and then return to intended landing site in China.
  • Technical verification of reusable and in-orbit services will be done as per plan, in a bid to provide technical support to peaceful use of space.
  • No launch related images have been released by the China’s space authorities.
  • Less information is out to public about the spacecraft. Thus, based on previous activities, it is being speculated that vehicle is a spaceplane.
  • It is possibly an orbital segment and will operate with a reusable suborbital stage, which was tested in 2021.

China’s Long March 2F launch vehicle usually launch China’s Shenzhou crewed missions. It is having a payload capacity of around 8 metric tons to low Earth orbit. The launched spacecraft could be of same size and function to X-37B space plane of US Air Force. Long March 2F and its payload would have been modified, to assist the launch of ‘reusable test spacecraft’.


Earlier, China had carried the orbital test of a reusable experimental spacecraft in September 2020. Spacecraft had spent just 2 days in orbit and released a small payload before landing back in China. This mission appears to fit into space transportation development plans made by Chinese main space contractor, CASC.




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