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Air- Space plane: US vs China
X37B returned to earth, after its 5th mission .
The plane broke the record, stayed in space for 780 days. The top news about it is the secrecy . Only thing released is , it did US Air Force experiments, and put into obits some small satellites. However, people guess it is protype of space fighter.
Almost at same moment, China gave the news on its own spaceplane . It is said that a 2 stage plane was successfully tested, and the 2nd stage freely detached from the 1st stage in a wind tunnel test. It’s claimed as a break though to China’s spaceplane development.
2 stage plane consists 2 separate planes. The first stage plane carries the second stage in takeoff from the ground. When enough speed is achieved, the 2nd stage detaches from the 1st plane, then using its own engine to fly to space . Clearly , the 2 stage plane is reusable , like X37B. But X37B bases its character on traditional satellites. It is sent to space by a rocket, and all its functions in obit can be done by satellites . Only , X37B has wings , and is reusable.
China’s 2 stage plane is really planes. Its first stage takes off just like other transport planes, instead of rocket propelling . The 2 stage plane is maneuverable like other planes, no predictable trajectory of rocket. In military mission, it is safe from anti missile systems. On the contrary, X37B is more risky to be intercepted in its takeoff phase, if it is a space fighter.
China’s version is air- space plane in real sense. X37B is more satellite like , difference is X37B can fall on airport with its wings; while satellites , on grass land or water surface.