China releases mystery object from remotely controlled spaceplane mission

by | May 28, 2024 | China, Launches, Military space, Seradata News

An unknown object, suspected of being an inspection subsatellite, was released from a Chinese robotic spaceplane on 24 May at about 1900 GMT. The CSSHQ 1 (Flight 3) reusable mini-shuttle has been in a low Earth orbit (LEO) since its launch in mid-December from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, China. After initially being released by the mother ship into a 348 x 333 km altitude orbit inclined at 50 degrees, the mystery object immediately raised its orbit to 602 by 609 km.

Artist’s impression of CSSHQ reusable Chinese spaceplane. Courtesy: Wikipedia

Each of the previous space missions of the CSSHQ 1 spaceplane, launched on 4 September 2020 and 4 August 2022, resulted in the release of one subsatellite. These were also thought to be inspection spacecraft.

Comment by David Todd: There remains a fear that nations are preparing for space to be a potential battlefield. The CSSHQ spaceplane subsatellite experiments may be part of this. The US has recently accused Russia of preparing to launch an anti-satellite nuclear/beam weapon aimed at taking out large numbers of constellation spacecraft in LEO. The recently launched Cosmos 2576 satellite is also suspected of being a Russian inspection satellite with a potential anti-satellite function.

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