China successfully launched a reusable spacecraft into space on top of a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in the Gobi Desert on last Friday. The Chinese media confirmed that the experimental spacecraft's return on Sunday.
The mysterious spacecraft that went to space last week launched an unknown object into the orbit before coming back to the Earth, as reported by the SpaceNews.com. The got picked by US space surveillance and given the designation NORAD ID 46395 (2020-063G COSPAR ID). It is said to be orbiting in an identical pattern and angle as the spacecraft ahead of its deorbiting and was released from the craft two orbits before its return, according to reports.
China Did Not Disclose Much About the Spacecraft
The East Asian nation has not released any information about the object, with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and the local media giving very little information about the reusable spacecraft itself increasing curiosity about it. In a small report regarding the successful return of the spacecraft to Earth on Sunday, Xinhua described the flight as an important breakthrough in the case of reusable spacecraft research and claimed that it will be helpful in the future.
Andrew Jones, a contributor for SpaceNews.com speculated regarding the nature of the spacecraft, pointing to the space agency's previous launch of a small monitoring satellite named Banxing craft in 2008 and also to the nation's testing of a new-generation capsule in the month of May this year.
Another contributor Stephen Clark thinks that the mysterious object might have been a service module, power and propulsion package, or a sub-satellite. An unnamed military source had mentioned last week that the spacecraft may have been a Boeing X-37B-style spaceplane having similarities to and borrowing design concepts from the old US Space Shuttle design and also the experiments by the Soviets in creating small, reusable space planes.