The unmanned spacecraft returned to the Jiuquan launch center in northwest China on Monday as scheduled, according to state media.
The test marks an “important” advance in China’s research into reusable spacecraft technology, which will provide a more convenient and cheaper way to mount future space missions, state media reported.
In 2021, what may have been a similar spacecraft flew to the edge of space and returned to Earth on the same day, in a mission that was also largely kept under wraps. It landed on Earth “horizontally,” according to China’s main space contractor at the time.
Commentators on Chinese social media have speculated that Beijing has developed a spacecraft like the US Air Force’s X-37B, an autonomous space plane that can stay in orbit for years.
The unmanned and reusable X-37B returned to Earth last November on its sixth and final mission after more than 900 days in orbit.
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