China says it landed a reusable spacecraft after a two-day flight


Xinhua said only that the craft represented an “important breakthrough” in China’s development of reusable spacecraft that could provide a cheaper, more convenient solution for the “peaceful use of space.” In other words, it might lower the costs of delivering payloads into space and allow for quicker turnaround times.

There are details for the rocket that launched the space plane, at least. China said it deployed the reusable vehicle using the Long March 2F, a veteran rocket system with a first launch in November 1999. The new machine clearly isn’t ready to take off by itself — it needed the help of a well-established mode of transportation to reach orbit.


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