Tested Reusable Space Vehicle, Not Hypersonic Weapon: China

  • Our Bureau
  • 04:47 PM, October 18, 2021
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Tested Reusable Space Vehicle, Not Hypersonic Weapon: China
Long March 2F rocket @CMS

China has said that it tested technology for reusing a space vehicle in August, rejecting earlier claims that the country was evaluating new space capability with a hypersonic missile.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Monday that such a test is meant to lower the cost of using a space vehicle, and it can provide more low-cost measures for the peaceful use of space.

Many companies in the world have conducted similar tests," and after separating from the space vehicle before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when it's falling in the atmosphere and the debris will fall into the high seas, said Zhao.

China will make joint efforts with all other countries on the peaceful use of space to benefit humanity, Zhao noted.

On Sunday, the Financial Times reported, "China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise."

The FT report said it interviewed "five people familiar with the test" who said "the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew in low-orbit space before cruising towards its target," and "the missile missed its target by about two dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence." But two said "the test showed that China had made astounding progress in hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than U.S. officials realized."

Wang Zhicheng, a senior expert on aerospace science and technology, told the Global Times today that the reusable spacecraft technology will reduce the cost of transportation from Earth to space, and some companies exploring the possibility of suborbital space tourism and developing new technology for the future of the civil aviation transportation industry are investing in the Earth-space reusable spacecraft.

He added that said the U.S. uses Western media to hype the test and spread the "China threat theory" so that they can win support to increase its defense budget to develop space weapons.

"After China displayed the DF-17 missile during the military parade in 2019, some US elites believe that China has taken the lead in hypersonic weapons development, and within the U.S., developing hypersonic weapons is a controversial issue, so they might want to exaggerate that China makes progress in developing such a weapon in order to unify their public opinion within the U.S.," Zhicheng noted.

Wang Ya'nan, chief editor of the Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Monday that "the U.S. had used a reusable spacecraft such as the space shuttle for military purposes, and the US also considers its X-37B craft an important weapon to rapidly develop a military force."

China successfully tested a reusable spacecraft in September 2020. The carrier rocket was the Long March-2F, the "go-to" launch vehicle for China's manned space projects.

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