Launching from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China, a Long March 2F rocket has reportedly successfully carried a Chinese reusable spaceplane into LEO. There has been no official confirmation of the launch time from Chinese sources but observers believe lift-off was between 1400-1430 GMT on 14 December.
This marks the third mission of the Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi (CSSHQ) reusable spaceplane project developed by CASC. It remains uncertain if this is the same craft/hull that flew on previous missions, the latest of which lasted between August 2022- May 2023. For comparison two X-37 units make up the comparable programme in the USA.
As stated above Chinese state media had little to say about this mission however, Xinhua did report that the spaceplane is expected to “operate in orbit for some time” before returning to Earth and that whilst in orbit it will conduct “verifications for reusable technologies and space science experiments”. All according to Xinhua “to support the peaceful use of space”.