Foreign ministry insisted Beijing was testing reusable spacecraft
China denied on Monday a report that appeared in Financial Time, claiming Beijing had recently tested a hypersonic missile, saying its launch of a new spacecraft was just a test to see whether the vehicle was reusable.
On Saturday, the FT reported that Beijing had launched a nuclear-capable missile in August that circled the Earth in low orbit before narrowly missing its target.
But Beijing said on Monday the report was ‘inaccurate’, and the exercise was a test of reusable technology that could reduce the cost of launching spacecraft.
“According to my understanding, this test is a routine spacecraft test, used to test a reusable spacecraft technology,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in a regular press briefing. “This could provide a convenient and cheap way for humans to use space for peaceful purposes.”
Zhao’s comments came days after China launched a second three-person crew to staff its space station on a six-month mission.
Zhao said that the test was meant to lower the cost of using a space vehicle, and it could help provide more low-cost measures for peaceful use of space.
“Many companies in the world have conducted similar tests,” he maintained.
After separating from the space vehicle before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when it’s falling in the atmosphere and “the debris will fall into the high seas”, said Zhao.
China has said that it was only carrying out routine test flights in a bid to recycle spacecraft to reduce exploration costs.
“This was a routine test of a space vehicle to verify the technology of their reusability,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing in Beijing on Monday.
The launched object “was not a missile” with a military purpose, but “a space vehicle” for civilian aims, he emphasised.