China’s Revolutionary Reusable Spaceplane For 2020


Artist’s Impression

China appears to have made a significant development with the latest announcement made by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) of launching the next-generation spaceplane by 2020.

Horizontally launching spacecraft was, in fact, NASA’s initiative envisioned in 1970s. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 and XCOR’s Lynx are both designed only for suborbital flight.  SpaceX has already been manufacturing reusable space rockets, with the remarkable launching of Flacon 9 earlier this year, deploying it to the International Space Station as well as to ferry satellites from private corporations and several countries.

But China’s upcoming “space plane” is envisaged to be different as Chen Hongbo, CASTC researcher, stated that unlike traditional space crafts, this new spaceplane “will fly into the sky like an aircraft”, distinguishing it from rockets, therefore cited as spaceplane.

Artist’s Impression

Hypothetically the spaceplane will take off from a runway, then firing its ramjet propulsion, once suitable altitude is achieved, in the atmosphere, as reported by Ars Technica. This spaceplane is supposed to be carrying both the crew and cargo into orbital space with the technology allowing easy maintenance.  Reducing the cost for forthcoming launches, to both Moon and Mars, Chen added.

“Currently, China is developing its own reusable earth-to-orbit space vehicles that can take off and land horizontally,” Liu Shiquan, China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation vice director, stated earlier in June, in a presser during the Global Space Exploration Conference in Beijing. “We have already finished several crucial ground tests for engines and [other key components], yielding remarkable achievements.”

If things go as planned, China will be the first to horizontally launch a reusable orbital space plane and land it back again. Source:  Physics-Astronomy

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