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Mystery Chinese spacecraft returns to Earth after 276 days in orbit

China’s official media reported that an experimental Chinese spacecraft had returned to Earth, after orbiting the Earth for 276 consecutive days.

Report added that the spacecraft had completed a historic mission for testing the country’s reusable technologies in space.

According to state media, the spacecraft was returned as planned to the Jiuquan Launch Centre in north-west China.

No details are given about the spacecraft, its technologies, or how high it flew in space.


The public has yet to see images of the craft.

A’significant’ breakthrough

State media reported that the test marked an “important breakthrough” in China’s research on reusable spacecraft technologies, which will allow for a more convenient way to mount future missions into space.

A similar spacecraft that can fly to the edge the atmosphere and return to Earth the same day took off in 2021. China called this a major step toward developing reusable space transport technology.

According to China’s principal space contractor, the landing was “horizontal”.

On social media, some speculated that Beijing was developing a spacecraft similar to the US Air Force X-37B – an autonomous spaceplane capable of remaining in orbit for many years.

In November of last year, the unmanned and reusable X-37B, after spending more than 900 orbital days, returned to Earth.

This mission [X-37B] highlights the Space Force’s focus on collaborating in space exploration, and expanding low-cost space access for our partners within and outside the Department of the Air Force.

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China launched three astronauts into its unfinished space station last year for six months of construction.

The crew of Chen Dong Can Xuzhe and Liu Yang were on their way to accomplish their mission.

The crew of the aircraft returned safely to their home in December last year. They appeared happy and waved at workers on the landing site.

After six months of hard work and excitement in space, Mr Chen, the first person to leave the capsule, said, “I feel very lucky to have seen the completion of the basic structural structure of the Chinese Space Station.”

We returned like meteors to the embrace of our motherland.


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