China launched an experimental spacecraft for the third time in the month of December. The scientists involved maintained stringent secrecy about this mission. According to the state media, the Long March 2F rocket took off in the Gobi Desert from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It sent a reusable spacecraft, which was intended to operate for a brief period in the lowest orbit of Earth and then return to its landing site.
The first and second missions occurred in 2020 and 2022. The third one was launched seven months after the rocket returned to our planet, successfully completing its 276-day-long journey. The reduced time between the second and third missions indicates the advancements the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) made in aspects associated with reusability.
The following write-up aims to specify the science behind China’s third rocket launch. It also provides other relevant information. Please check all of that out right now.
Understanding the Science Behind China’s Latest Rocket Launch
China revealed no data. You cannot find any image of the China rocket launch. The spacecraft’s launch was presumably vertical. Also, as stated above, the Long March 2F sent the spacecraft. This rocket was used for launching all crewed missions in China.
The Long March 2F has a substantial payload capacity – eight metric tons. So, the spacecraft is probably the same as X-37B spaceplane of the US Air Force in terms of function and size. This particular notion was further reinforced by the images of the rocket gathered from its second launch. These images can even help you unearth the shape and dimensions of the spacecraft.
The first and second missions had to deploy satellites. They were also involved in various scientific experiments. During the second mission, the spacecraft performed innumerable small and big orbital maneuvers. The third spacecraft was assumed to have a different scope.
CASC has earlier stated strategies to construct a reusable TSTO (two stage to orbit) mode of space transportation. CASC’s project got a lot of funding from the Chinese Natural Science Foundation.
US-China Space Competition
United States launched X-37B in 2010. It will take off for the seventh time this month on a Falcon Heavy rocket. The launch has been delayed a couple of times. The seventh mission will conduct tests on orbital regimes, experiment with space awareness technologies, and examine the effects of radiation.
Based on the little data the scientists have, the China rocket launch and X-37B are doing the same type of missions. Both the spacecraft reflect the relationship China currently has with the United States. Each nation sees the other’s spacecraft mission as a destabilizing weapon and potential threat.
The development of reusable technologies has become an integral part of China’s broader program. The president of China, Xi Jinping, has established a goal for the nation to become an expert in aerospace. Xi also stated that the space domain is a critical component of China’s overall strategy.
Other Efforts of China
The Long March rockets include a plethora of variants with top-notch capabilities. They form the core of the nation’s space domain. Through the year 2019, the Long March completed over 300 successful launches. It experienced nine failures and seven partial failures. This gave the series a success rate of ninety-five percent.
China has set a striving goal to convert itself into the best space power by the year 2045. A critical part of this procedure is mastering innovation. China has invested in research. As per the official figures, China’s expenditure on research for spacecraft elevated from 22.6 million dollars in 2000 to 386.6 million dollars.
CASIC, a space and defense contractor, is exerting the utmost effort to create a spaceplane called Tengyun. A Chinese commercial company raised approximately 46.3 million dollars for the hypersonic space projects. The company wanted to test various space flights by 2025.
China has been trying to enhance its flexibility and access range in recent times. In 2014, the government provided private capital to foster the commercial space industry to a great extent.
Commercial launch companies are now operating several liquid and solid launch vehicles. Hop tests are underway at the Jiuquan center. The companies are trying to establish reusable rocket capacities.
CASC is at present developing a heavy-lift reusable vehicle for launch called Long March 9. Long March 10 will launch a vast crew and take the astronauts to the moon. That will be its first reusable stage.