China’s spacecraft, an experimental one, has been launched by Jiuquan Launch Center in August.
It’s been almost 8 weeks since the last time we heard from China’s spacecraft launched from Gobi Desert. However, things are changing as the spacecraft has recently launched its thrusters to the top of a more circular and higher orbit, but for reasons that aren’t fully understood.
The spacecraft was launched aboard the Long March 2F carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on August 4. In China’s second attempt to launch a spacecraft, the spacecraft was launched at a higher altitude and over a longer time than the previous.
After its launch, the spacecraft was in an orbit of around 215 miles by 369 miles (346 km by 593km), tilted at fifty degrees higher than the Equator. However, experts monitoring its orbit noticed a shift on Sunday, October 23, with the spacecraft elevating its orbit to a circular 371 by 378 miles (597 608 km), SpaceNews reported.
China has provided little details regarding its spaceplane, and the Chinese government said it would stay in orbit for a speculative “period,” the state media said on the day of the launch.
China’s first spaceplane tested experimentally was launched in September 2020 and was in orbit for around two days before re-entering Earth. It flew around size of 206 miles by 221 miles, with the same tilt (331 km X 347km), according to Ars Technica. The spacecraft also released a single payload before the landing.
The spaceplane project is under the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, a state-owned vehicle manufacturer producing both military and civilian rockets for launch. Like the United States, the Space Force has its spaceplane called the Boeing X-37. The Space Force’s spaceplane was launched in May 2020 for its sixth flight test and had been flying non-stop ever since.
The two tested vehicles remain floating in the sky, but there needs to be a confirmation on the date they will land.