This past week, a new space plane prototype flew on a test flight from Jiuquan Satellite Centre in the Gobi Desert, landing back on Earth on Sept 6. US satellites caught the landing and part of its journey. Beijing confirmed that a Long March 2F rocket had carried a “reusable experimental spacecraft” into orbit, describing the flight as an “important breakthrough”. The plane was modelled after US X-37B, an American space plane that has been operating for nearly a decade.

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