China on 4 September 2020 successfully launched a reusable experimental spacecraft whose mission details have been kept secret. The spacecraft was launched on a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China. After a period of in-orbit operation, the spacecraft will return to a predetermined landing site in China. It will test reusable technologies during its flight, providing technological support for the peaceful use of space. 
  1. The X-37B is an unmanned space plane that operates like a smaller version of the Space Shuttle, which is launched by a rocket and cruises back to earth for a runway landing.
  2. It has flown four classified missions to date, carrying secret payloads on long-duration flights in Earth orbit.
  3. The 4 September 2020 launch comes weeks after China launched Tianwen-1, the country's first Mars mission, from Hainan in late July.
  4. The China National Space Administration said its spacecraft, including an orbiter, lander and rover, was performing well on its way to Mars.
  5. A month before that, China completed the network of satellites for its BeiDou navigation network, a competitor to the Global Positioning System (GPS) system of the US.