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Suborbital aerospace plane makes maiden flight

By ZHAO LEI | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-07-16 21:46
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China carried out the maiden flight of the prototype of a reusable suborbital aerospace plane in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Friday, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's major space contractor.

The unnamed prototype was lifted by a carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and flew for a certain period of time before making a conventional landing at the Alxa Right Banner Airport. The flight test was successful, the State-owned conglomerate said in a statement, adding that the cutting-edge vehicle incorporates both aviation and space technologies.

The test laid a solid foundation for China to develop a reusable space transportation system, the statement noted. It did not give details of the event.

This is the second time for China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a leading domestic supplier of carrier rockets and ballistic missiles, to make public development in its reusable vehicle project.

In September last year, the company flight-tested a reusable experimental spacecraft from the Jiuquan center. It did not publish detailed information, photos or videos about the test.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, another space contractor, is also working on a reusable aerospace plane and plans to put it to commercial flight by 2030. The company said it has conducted a key flight test by a conceptual demonstration prototype to verify the propulsion shift mechanism between ramjet and rocket engine.

Designers have said that such craft can be used in a wide range of operations, such as space tourism, astronaut commuting, satellite deployment, cargo transportation and emergency rescue.

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