An experimental Chinese spacecraft has returned to Earth after 276 days in orbit, according to Chinese state media.
The spacecraft completed a landmark mission to test the country’s reusable space technology, the report added.
State media says unmanned spacecraft returns to Jiuquan launch center in northwest China China as planned.
The spacecraft first launched in early August 2022, but did not elaborate on what the spacecraft was, what technologies were tested, or how high it would go into space.
Images of the craft have also not been released to the public.
An “important” breakthrough
State media said the test marked an “important” breakthrough in China’s research on reusable spacecraft technology, which will provide a more convenient and less costly way for future space missions.
In 2021, a similar spacecraft capable of flying to the edge of the atmosphere will take off and return to Earth on the same day, in what China says is a big step toward developing reusable space transportation technology.
According to China’s main aerospace contractor at the time, it landed “horizontally” on Earth.
Some have speculated on social media that Beijing has been developing a spacecraft similar to the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B, an autonomous space shuttle that can stay in orbit for years.
The uncrewed and reusable X-37B returned to Earth on its sixth mission last November after more than 900 days in orbit.
“This mission [X-37B] Underscores the Space Force’s focus on cooperation in space exploration and expands low-cost access to space for our partners, both within and outside the Department of the Air Force (DAF),” said Gen. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations.
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China also launched three astronauts to its unfinished space station last year for six months of construction work.
At that time, crew members Chen Dong, Can Xuzhe, and Liu Yang flew to perform the mission.
In December last year, the crew returned safely, with high spirits, and waved happily to the staff at the landing site.
Mr. Chen, who was the first to walk out of the space capsule, said: “After spending six busy and fulfilling months in space, I was lucky to witness the completion of the basic structure of the Chinese space station.
“We returned to the embrace of our motherland like a meteor.”