09 September 2020 Community news

China's reusable spacecraft returns to Earth, deploys unknown object before deorbiting

The Chinese reusable experimental spaceship has successfully returned to Earth having spent two days in low-Earth orbit (LEO), Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday.

The reusable spaceship was launched last week on a Long March 2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert.

While little has so far been released about the reusable capsule, Xinhua said the successful flight "marked the country’s important breakthrough in reusable spacecraft research and is expected to offer convenient and low-cost round trip transport for the peaceful use of the space”.

As declared by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation on the day of launch, the spacecraft's mission was "to test the reusable technology during space flight and to provide technological support in peace exploration of space".

However according to space correspondent Andrew Jones, the spacecraft released an unknown object before deorbiting.

The Chinese reusable experimental spaceship was registered in the catalog of space objects under the international designation of 2020-063 and number 46389.

The newly released object has since been catalogued by the US space surveillance as NORAD ID 46395 (2020-063G COSPAR ID), and is assigned to the Long March 2F launch.

No details of the nature of the object have so far been released by China.

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