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Has China Already Flown a Space Plane?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-that-running-dog-imperialists dept.

The Military 176

garymortimer writes that according to a report published by China Aviation Journal, "China has successfully launched its own space plane prototype; the news came out shortly after the US Air Force announced the successful test of their advanced X37B space plane. This story has now been deleted. Hong Kong's Ming Pao daily on Tuesday said Shaanxi TV last Saturday quoted acting provincial governor Zhao Zhengyong as saying China has 'succeeded in the test flight of a prototype aircraft that can fly through the atmospheric layer.' Zhao was visiting a state-run aircraft corporation at Xi'an high-tech industrial development zone."

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176 comments

Hermes? (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054706)

China’s “Hermes” Space Plane: A December 16 photo shows a model of the Shenlong and a new model of the Chinese “Hermes” space plane. China has made significant progress toward the development of an unmanned trans-atmospheric vehicle and a Space Plane. Beijing’s technological advancement has obvious commercial and scientific uses, however the military significance of the plane cannot be denied.

But Hermes [wikipedia.org] was a European vehicle. Sounds like somebody in China has been cutting and pasting, and has a bad case of the mee toos.

Re:Hermes? (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055466)

But Hermes [wikipedia.org] was a European vehicle. Sounds like somebody in China has been cutting and pasting, and has a bad case of the mee toos.

Sounds Xi'antific.

Yes (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054724)

Yes. I mean no. I mean... I don't know.

What was the question again?

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055336)

Don' worry. All of the politicians here in the U.S. assure us that China can't innovate; that's the U.S.'s job. That's why we let all of our manufacturing leave for China; To free up Americans to innovate.

Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054736)

China's space technology is pretty much a verbatim copy of the Russian stuff(and ever since Russia realized what China was doing with technology it lent China to go to space, China hasn't been back there. Not a coincidence in my opinion). So if Russia has a space plane then maybe China has one, otherwise I doubt it.

Re:Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055382)

Russia had a space plane (Buran [wikipedia.org] ), but I don't know if they were speaking to China at the time (the Soviet Union and China fell out in the early 1970s, and Buran ran from 1974 until 1993). Buran itself never achieved that much - its one orbital flight was unmanned.

Re:Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055392)

Why do you assume they are incapable of developing anything themselves? Maybe the reason they copy other nation's technology is to catch up in the shorted time possible. That doesn't mean they don't have talented people who can build on those designs.

Just look at some of the high end audio gear they are producing over there. I have a pair of PK1 headphones which surpass all other in-ear buds IMHO. They do some damn good amps and DACs too. These are not copies of other countries designs, they are original Chinese products.

Re:Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055408)

Yes, Russian has... or rather had.
Not only did they have the Buran shuttle copy which flew once and landed unpiloted, they also has some small delta-wing vehicles launched on expendable rockets in the lat 1970s and early 1980s, built to float and recovered at sea. Either photo spy program or developmental tests for Buran tech or both...not sure.

Re:Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (3, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055468)

China's space technology is pretty much a verbatim copy of the Russian stuff(and ever since Russia realized what China was doing with technology it lent China to go to space, China hasn't been back there. Not a coincidence in my opinion). So if Russia has a space plane then maybe China has one, otherwise I doubt it.

Just because they've been copying Russia's space technology doesn't mean they're incapable of developing their own. Ever hear the phrase "don't re-invent the wheel"? We IT folks routinely re-use other people's code where we can, and then write our own where we can't?

Regardless, Russia did have some space plane-ish stuff. The Buran [wikipedia.org] comes to mind...

Re:Depends, have the Russians flown a space plane? (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055610)

The Buran was Russia's answer to the Space Shuttle ... except they saw it was pointless earlier than the USA and only did the test flight to prove it worked then scrapped it and went back to rockets ....

They now have more efficient rocket motors, a more reliable launch system, and a 10 year head start on long duration space habitation .... the USA has the Shuttle which it is now (finally) getting rid of ...

Space planes were the solution to a problem that no longer exists, much like the U2, SR52, and Concorde ...

uhhh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054748)

"the news came out shortly after the US Air Force announced the successful test of their advanced X37B space plane, which is widely regarded as a next-generation super weapon that is even more dangerous than atomic bomb"

right guys
this is definitely a story that needs to be taken seriously!

Good thing it's obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054756)

From TFA: "Beijing’s technological advancement has obvious commercial and scientific uses, however the military significance of the plane cannot be denied.".

Ok, its military significance can't be denied. I'm wondering if it can be explained?

Interesting idea (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054780)

If they manage to militarize space, commerce might begin in full force. Sadly, you don't get the kind of focus you need on something unless it has military applications. If you can get a nation to make a outpost in space, we're free and clear as far as surviving a major disaster.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055264)

If they manage to militarize space, commerce might begin in full force. Sadly, you don't get the kind of focus you need on something unless it has military applications. If you can get a nation to make a outpost in space, we're free and clear as far as surviving a major disaster.

An outpost in space is worthless until it becomes self sustaining. If you destroy a country that has space outposts, you will suddenly have those space outposts begging the victorious country for supplies to survive or a ride home.

Your statement is mostly correct however. It should read:

If you can get a nation to make a self sustaining outpost in space, we're free and clear as far as surviving a major disaster.

Re:Interesting idea (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055452)

Gosh, we seem to have military bases everywhere that require resupply and are not self sustaining. It's called logistics and it is something that has been part of the art of warfare since the first man picked up the first rock.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

d0nster (989432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055582)

I think it depends on what kind of disaster we have and where the self sustaining outpost is. If the disaster is that our solar system is bombarded by enough gamma rays to kill all life on earth and our outpost is on the moon, we're still extinct.

Footage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054788)

Footage might look similar to Moonraker.

Verified? (2)

worip (1463581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054792)

Not knowing how independant the Chinese press is from the Chinese government - has anyone verified this independantly? How about any photos (besides from the plastic model in the article)?

you guys are fucking scared? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054798)

you guys are fucking scared? Americans are dump....

Buzzing the ISS (2)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054800)

They seem to have deleted any videos. Perhaps this is linked to the fact when you do a frame capture and zoom in, through the cockpit window you can see Tom Cruise giving the bird?

Phillip.

Do not be alarmed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054812)

I know many of you read the alarmist stuff in the Drudge Report [drudgereport.com] and NYT [nytimes.com] but this is not that big a deal really. After all, like the J-20, this is all still at the experimental and prototype stage. It remains to be seen if they can actually get to the production stage with not just a viable product but a product that is a significant threat.

Also, I don't think the Chinese have any ambitions and plans for aggression. Developments like this are just what one would expect of the country with the largest number of people and the second largest economy in the world. Their leaders would be incompetent if they didn't even bother to keep up with the rest world in space and defense technologies.

Also, why would they want to commit acts of aggression and/or invade other countries, rock the boat and upset the status quo and piss away billions when things are going so well for them?
All they have to do is look at what has happened in the last 10 years to figure out that it doesn't pay at all the invade other countries. You lose friends and lots of money in the process and people hate you and get absolutely nothing in return.

Re:Do not be alarmed! (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055288)

All they have to do is look at what has happened in the last 10 years to figure out that it doesn't pay at all the invade other countries. You lose friends and lots of money in the process and people hate you and get absolutely nothing in return.

Whether true or not, history would disagree. Nearly every time a country becomes an economic and military force to be reckoned with, they start getting visions of world domination. I would say the US is an exception. Granted, we use our military pretty freely, but not to take ownership of foreign lands. Well, at least not since we expanded to the Pacific coast anyway, but that was well before our post WWII rise to become a world power.

FRIST PSOT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054820)

I AM A TROUT

Shuttle Replacement (2, Interesting)

ticklish2day (575989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054822)

Do these space planes have the technology to be a viable space shuttle replacement?

Re:Shuttle Replacement (2)

northernfrights (1653323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055492)

No, they are too small to carry a significant payload or people, and are designed to operate right at the edge of the atmosphere in a very low orbit.

Which atmosphere (1)

kombiman (1776174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054824)

Most of those 'Father and son sent camera into space with a balloon' are not in space. And if it explodes does it go all Top Gun too?

how can believe anything outta china? (4, Interesting)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054828)

"A Chinese state news broadcaster has apparently been caught passing off dogfight footage from the Hollywood movie “Top Gun” as footage of China’s latest fighter jet destroying a target drone in a live fire exercise." ^ when they get busted trying that how could believe anything from their news agencies.

Re:how can believe anything outta china? (0)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055254)

CNN showed passed off Nepalese police as Chinese soldiers. New stations pull this crap all the time, the Chinese are no different.

Re:how can believe anything outta china? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055472)

Uhh...the Western media has been busted many, many times doing the same thing. All the big names: CNN, AP, NYT, you name it. It's just that, surprisingly, stories like this aren't given much publicity in...the Western media.

Not Surprised (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054832)

They have been working on this for a while. I'll bet they don't have an X37B though. I find the quote at the bottom of the page a bit humorous though: "Man is a military animal, glories in gunpowder, and loves parade." P.J. Bailey. Can you say secret military satellite

weird sentence in article (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054834)

the news came out shortly after the US Air Force announced the successful test of their advanced X37B space plane, which is widely regarded as a next-generation super weapon that is even more dangerous than atomic bomb

Whaaa? How so? If it was dropping a nuke I could see it being dangerous, but how is it more dangerous on its own? Covert information gathering?

Re:weird sentence in article (3, Informative)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055364)

it can server as an orbital weapons platform, at which point a simple metal bar suddenly becomes an very dangerous high energy kinetic weapon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment [wikipedia.org]

Re:weird sentence in article (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055416)

Yea. I'm reading Footfall again and that's what the Snouts were using. Essentially a crowbar with a maneuverable tail fin and a mini-brain to id and make subtle changes in direction.

[John]

Re:weird sentence in article (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055578)

What size of blast radius would you be looking at with something like that?

Re:weird sentence in article (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055710)

Somewhere between 1 meter and big enough that the moon can coalesce from the debris blasted out of the hole. Depending on the size of the bar and its speed.

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054850)

welcome our new Space-plane wielding Chinese overlords.

Frosty Piss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054862)

Bitches!

Test Flight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054866)

"Test flight" could mean anything. Until it goes into space and comes back they've hardly succeeded. If the story is even legit.

Sure, plenty of times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054884)

China has flown many space planes.
Most of them are in the toy department at Wallmart.

No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054886)

or is the footage showing this to be culled from "Mars Attacks" ?

The Art Of War (2)

pasv (755179) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054902)

"All armies prefer high ground to low and sunny places to dark." - Sun Tzu. Space is the ultimate high ground, it's just a matter of time.

Oblig. SF][ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054908)

You must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance! http://tinyurl.com/6flxjjw

HAil China! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054910)

I hope China scares the hell out of the U.S. imperialists! Get the dirty paws of the American imperialists off Korea! Have you ever noticed that the hat?

Probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054914)

In a few years they'll be on Mars, while Obama won't even let the US go to the moon.
Maotroll: Problem, groundfags?

Why was it pulled? (3, Interesting)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054926)

I doubt they've flown it. They probably have a prototype they plan to fly, and a pre-written press release to print the moment it flies. They accidentally published it early, and had to pull it. Similar things have happened with other parts of various space programs.

Here is the first unofficial video (0)

moxsam (917470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054928)

This was apparently filmed by a passenger on a commercial airliner flying over China...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEg9T_OC0Zo

First unofficial video footage leaked (0)

moxsam (917470) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054936)

This was apparently filmed by a passenger of a commercial airliner somewhere above China...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEg9T_OC0Zo

Proof Positive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054958)

I'll bet the documentary footage bears a striking resemblance to scenes from Star Trek: Enterprise

Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054962)

Far out you americans are paranoid.

has china allready flown a space plane? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35054964)

yes, no, maybe

next question

dangerous? (1)

mijelh (1111411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054982)

from TFA:

even more dangerous than atomic bomb

How is a space plane more dangerous than the atomic bomb?

Re:dangerous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055716)

You can't deploy a nuclear bomb without every other nuclear power retaliating against you.

You can on the other hand use a space plane to attack communication satellites, or deploy devastating kinetic weaponry.

Hyperbole much? (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35054998)

"...the US Air Force announced the successful test of their advanced X37B space plane, which is widely regarded as a next-generation super weapon that is even more dangerous than atomic bomb."

Strictly speaking, the X-37B doesn't do much of anything in and of itself other than go round and round the Earth, so I'm not sure the above is exactly an apples to apples comparison.

yes, no, maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055000)

next question

Sure, why not? (2)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055026)

The Chinese are actively developing their LEO space functionality. The US's own Mercury and Gemini astronauts were farmed from test pilots of extremely high altitude planes. Why wouldn't the Chinese do the same thing (high altitude planes) as part of developing their space science/talent?

First time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055036)

I've ever been first post. I considered posting first, but I was concerned that the acting provincial government would have it deleted anyway, and claim that I was never here.

Sure, why not? (0, Redundant)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055038)

China is actively developing their space program. When the US was doing this in the 50s and 60s, we used very high-altitude planes and farmed our Mercury and Gemini astronauts from the pilots of those planes. Why wouldn't the Chinese do the same thing as part of their space program evolution?

fRIST! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055040)

First to orbit!

Depends on What Plans They Have (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055048)

The answer to this question depends on what US spaceplane plans the Chinese have been able to either,
a) Obtain via espionage
b) Obtain via bribery/coercion
c) Obtain as part of a trade deal
d) Outright purchase
from designers in the US.

Basically my point is, like everything else nowadays, this plane was most likely designed in California, but built in Shanghai.

What are US Government Bonds for ? (1)

axonis (640949) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055068)

With trillions owing in US Government bonds, what sort of space program could you build with that ?, airport scanners and the TSA are the entry point for doods like Sir Richard to get his space flights on Galactic going from the US.... what would China charge for a Space flight ?, can you export it ? I'm sure Egypt would agree with China doing a few more sorties to get the Stargate back.

Re:What are US Government Bonds for ? (1)

nibbles2004 (761552) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055328)

i think the Egyptian government would want there star-gate back, they might need it need it quite soon

Weapon? (1)

erixm (1882824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055092)

From TFA: "...widely regarded as a next-generation super weapon that is even more dangerous than atomic bomb." Could anyone please explain that? I haven't read anything similar before.

was tom cruise the pilot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055108)

are there any hungry babies left? everything else will have to wait. see you there?

Suspicious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055110)

Coming right after the US announcement, does sound quite suspicious. The regional governors usually fudge numbers and twist truths to be on the good books of the central party

Good time to wave goodbye to the space shuttle (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055114)

Why not just hand China the keys to manned spaceflight on a plate and be done with it?

Re:Good time to wave goodbye to the space shuttle (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055388)

Why not just hand China the keys to manned spaceflight on a plate and be done with it?

Or even better, trade it for absolving the US debt.

Maybe they flew the X37B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055118)

... just public does not know it yet :)

Knowing how many of our military plans "leak..." (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055128)

...I really have to wonder if this Chinese space plane has X37B on the fuselage but Krylon-ed over with primer.

was tom cruise the pilot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055136)

are there any hungry babies still? everything else will have to wait. see you there?

is something wrong with the posting system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055152)

It's been two hours since it was posted and I don't see a single comment yet for this story.

First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055160)

They should make a hydrogen breathing plane since it's the ionosphere.

Whose propaganda is this anyway? (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055164)

In the 1960's the US military-industrial complex consistently reported that the US was suffering a "Missile Gap" with the USSR claiming, falsely, that the US had less offensive nuclear armed missile capability. I wonder who has the most to gain from this type of report.

In Soviet China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055176)

In Soviet China, space plane fly Wu!

We'd know (2)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055182)

Space planes are not exactly stealthy; heat emissions, contrails, etc., make them show up really clearly. Unless China managed to also make it the stealthiest plane ever designed, we'd know about it.

Did they find... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35055190)

... the Stargate in the arctic yet??

Google cache? (3, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055194)

If the original news articles were spidered before deletion, the information may still exist. I don't speak Chinese so I can't do much to try and find it though.

this article [sinobeat.info] has more info incl 2 images.

Get a grip, folks (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055526)

"Flying" a "space plane" is a meaningless accomplishment, even if it happened.

It takes a spitload of details, gotten exactly right, to make a safe, practical, reliable aerospace gadget.

The history of development of every thing that zooms has been fraught with a long if not also steep learning curve.
It took many tries for the USA to get the X-15 working smoothly.
Look up how many years the C-5A, C141, B-58, Atlas, B-1, and Patriot were in "development". Count up how many of those had to go back to the factory after a year to get new wings.

Anybody can put some metal on a booster and call it a "space plane". That does not make it one.

story should be tagged "sputnik" (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055528)

the usa is due for another sputnik moment. china is surpassing the usa economically, and soon technologically and politically unless we wake up from our complacency

or, in tea party speak: "the usa is number one! yeehah!"

or not, morons

Test flight might not mean what you think it does. (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35055622)

The US flew lots of space plane prototypes. Most of the X-plane series way back when. We'd strap them to a B-52 and drop them. Not hard to do compared to sending them to orbit.

As a matter of fact, Branson is doing the same thing privately.

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