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A mysterious Chinese space plane launches an unidentified object into orbit around Earth

A mysterious Chinese space plane launches an unidentified object into orbit around Earth

A Chinese spacecraft similar to a space shuttle launched an unknown object into orbit around Earth during its third mission.

China surpassed the United States late last year by launching its reusable space plane for the third time. It has now been in orbit around Earth for more than 165 days, and since then the vehicle has been emitting all kinds of signals and launching objects. astronomer Jonathan McDowell From the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, he thinks he knows more.

Unknown object

“A new object (59884/2023-195G) has been cataloged in connection with the Chinese spaceplane CSSHQ,” McDowell said. “It appears to have been ejected around 1900 UTC on May 24,” the astronomer wrote about the unknown object. According to the scientist, it could be a satellite or “another piece of hardware.” The hardware may already be disposed of before landing begins, or the body may be trained for certain maneuvers or satellite retrieval.

“This also happened on the first flight,” McDowell writes about such a test. The space plane was tested for the first time in 2020, then for two days. It launched again in 2022 and the vehicle remained in orbit for 276 days.

Based on American design

According to experts, the Chinese space plane is similar to the Boeing X-37B aircraft being developed by the United States. This “plane” resembles a miniature space shuttle and has already completed six missions since 2010. During its last mission, which ended in November 2022, it spent 908 days in Earth orbit. Experts believe that the design of the Chinese aircraft is based on the X-37B.

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