"Beijing’s development of space plane programs is broad-based, and their trajectory will represent a key barometer of its civil and military space intentions.". Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? It has made a series of incremental advances that culminated earlier this year in China's first manned space dockingat an orbital laboratory. At this time, there are no NOTAMs published anticipating the return and landing. And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com. As the next secretive flight of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B mini-shuttle draws closer, analysts are keeping a close eye on China’s own potential space plane, the Shenlong. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Yes, there's a video. China is the third country, after Russia and the United States, to develop an independent human spaceflight program. Other China space program watchdogs are mindful of the military origins of the country's space efforts. Countries including but not limited to China and the U.S. are working on space plane technology.". For the CZ-2F launch vehicle, the LB-40 strap-on boosters have a length of 15.326 meters, a diameter of 2.25 meters, a gross mass of 40,750 kg and an empty mass of 3,000 kg. The first orbital launch took place on April 24, 1970 when the CZ-1 Chang Zheng-1 rocket launched the first Chinese satellite, the Dongfanghong-1 (04382 1970-034A). Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! Space is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Perhaps a prototype of a reusable spacecraft, an analogue of the Boeing X-37(OTV) or Space Rider, will be tested. It was previously announced that the next launch of the LM-2F rocket would be the first major scientific research and experimental mission other than crewed spaceflight after Shenzhou-11, being the basis for the successful implementation of subsequent crewed spaceflight projects and a key to future aerospace technology. The LC-43 launch complex, also known as the South Launch Site (SLS), is equipped with two launch pads: 91 (901) and 94 (603). The train with the various elements of the launcher departed the factory on February 29. Collins is a student at the University of Michigan Law School whose research includes a focus on commodity, security, and rule-of-law issues in China. With ignition taking place at the end of the usual countdown in Chinese, the rocket began its journey into the Jiuquan sky. Only a few pictures have appeared since it was revealed in late 2007. The new experimental spaceplane was launched by the Long March-2G/T3, a variant of the launch vehicle usually used for the crewed Shenzhou program. Launch Pad 91 is used for the crewed program for the launch of the Long March-2F launch vehicle (Shenzhou and Tiangong). Joan Johnson-Freese, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. The Shenlong could be a subscale aerodynamic test model of a manned spaceplane concept; or full scale model of an unmanned spaceplane or boost-glide bomber system. The country has stated its goal of building a 60-ton space station for future missions. Launch Pad 94 is used for uncrewed orbital launches by the Long March-2C, Long March-2D and Long March-4C launch vehicles. This is possible with the introduction of improved navigation systems and a complex guidance system that features real-time inputs to the rocket to orbit parameters and uses GPS data outside the measurement error correction parameters to achieve double redundancy. Educator-astronaut talks to 'kids at heart' for online talk Tuesday. When Russia pursued its own shuttle, the Buran, Johnson-Freese said a cosmonaut friend told her it was for the sake of "keeping up with the Joneses." Cheng said numerous scientific conferences held in China during 1988-92 saw debate about what the manned space program vehicle should look like. Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! "Appropriately enough, Shenlong may also be little more than a symbol of China’s ability to challenge U.S. assumptions of primacy and technological dominance," Gubrud said. Burn time is 127.26 seconds. That rocket, in turn, was based on the proven flight technology of the Chang Zheng-2C. He is a winner of last year's National Space Club Press Award and a past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society's Ad Astra and Space World magazines. Shenlong Test Platform. This is within the payload capability of the Chinese CZ-2E(A) or Type A launch vehicles. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Winged Spaceships: Space Plane Evolution (Infographic), X-37B Space Plane: Photos of the U.S. Military's Mini-Shuttle, SpaceX now targeting Nov. 14 for next astronaut launch, Inspiring future space explorers: Q&A with former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin. Shenlong is very likely far less capable than the X-37B and may still be years away from yielding a vehicle with true operational capability.". The second stage pushed the secretive cargo into orbit, ending its performance at 9 minutes and 42 seconds. China launched a new experimental reusable space vehicle on Thursday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-2F/T – Chang Zheng-2F/T – launch vehicle. [5], As of 2007[update], the CAS academician Zhuang Fenggan (莊逢甘) said that a first test flight of the spaceplane would be conducted during the "Eleventh Five-Year Plan", meaning from 2006 to 2010. Their co-authored posting was titled "Spaceplane Development Becomes a New Dimension of Emerging U.S.-China Space Competition.". Shenlong Space Plane Advances China s Military Space Potential. Receive news and offers from our other brands? [2], The latest academic models shown in 2000, reveal a delta winged spaceplane with a single vertical stabilizer, equipped with three high-expansion engines. You will receive a verification email shortly. by Richard Fisher, Jr. In August, China analysts Andrew Erickson and Gabe Collins posted their Shenlong assessment on their China SignPost website. "Given regular People’s Liberation Army writings about the importance of space-to-ground military operations in the future, something like an X-43 [an unmanned experimental hypersonic aircraft] or X-37B would also have appeal, as a likely pathway for military purposes," Cheng said. A larger Shenlong model, however, would be capable of carrying a payload to orbit. Other launch zones at the launch site are used for launching the Kuaizhou, the CZ-11 Chang Zheng-11 and commercial launch vehicles using solid rocket motors. Erickson and Collins also wrote that, depending on its precise nature, Shenlong’s reported test may turn out to be part of a larger trend: a shrinking time gap between when the U.S. discloses a prototype military system and when China publicly shows a system similar in type —if not equal in capabilities or immediately operational. A substantial difference for this rocket is the absence of the launch escape tower, a more bulbous fairing and an improved separation sequence, with a more precise orbit insertion accuracy. Spacecraft separation came a few seconds later. The L-180 first stage has a length of 28.465 meters, a diameter of 3.35 meters, a gross mass of 198,830 kg and an empty mass of 12,550 kg. "If countries see the U.S. working on a space plane," she said, "they will feel compelled to do so, also." Email this article Print this article. China's current manned Shenzhou spacecraft, however, are capsule-based vehicles. The engines consume UDMH/N2O4 developing 738.4 kN (main engine) and 47.07 kN (vernier) of vacuum thrust. Alleged screenshot of coverage by China’s official military television channel depicting a Shenlong test flight. This December 2007 image shows China's robotic Shenlong space plane prototype carried by an H-6 bomber for glide testing. Fairing separation takes place around 3 minutes and 35 seconds into the flight. Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. "However, the economic rationale for the [NASA] shuttle was never realized, and it is not clear what advantages the X-37B offers the U.S. military over conventional upper stages, satellite buses and re-entry capsules," Gubrud said.

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