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China launches its version of X-37B

The new colonial movement: It appears that China has launched its version of a reusable X-37B mini-shuttle, or at least, that is most likely first guess, based on the meager data available.

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. Launch from the LC43/91 launch complex, under a veil of secrecy with no official launch photos or even a launch time disclosed.

Chinese media emitted a laconic report referring, that “the test spacecraft will be in orbit for a period of time before returning to the domestic scheduled landing site. During this period, it will carry out reusable technology verification as planned to provide technical support for the peaceful use of space.”

More at the link, though the lack of information, especially the refusal to even give a launch time, strongly indicates China wants to limit knowledge of this spacecraft’s position in space, thus limiting the ability of others to photograph it. What is known however does point to this being a variation of a small reusable unmanned shuttle, like the X-37B.

While once again China has not come up with something new, copying (or stealing) the idea from someone else, having such a vehicle gives them a significant capability. They can now test many different technologies in orbit for long periods, and get them back to Earth for study afterward.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

21 China
15 SpaceX
9 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe (Arianespace)

The U.S. continues to lead China 24 to 21 in the national rankings.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

2 comments

  • Andi

    “China wants to limit knowledge of this spacecraft’s position in space,”

    Surely we have tracked the launch and know exactly where it is in space?

  • Tom Billings

    “Surely we have tracked the launch and know exactly where it is in space?”

    The key there is that wherever in its orbit the vehicle is outside US surveillance capability, it may well be able to change its orbit, before the US “Space Fence” picks it up again. That was one possible use of the X-37b itself, because it could dip into the very top of the atmosphere, change orbital plane using its small wings, and recircularise its orbit, all without spending nearly as much propellant as normally is needed for plane change maneuvers, which is *lotsa propellant*.

    This sort of activity is yet another argument for a fully global Space Domain Awareness System, instead of just the USAF Space Fence in the Western Pacific.

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