Iran in Latin America: Threat or Axis of Annoyance?

Senior Fellow Douglas Farah's analysis of the debate over the level of threat posed by Iran's expanding diplomatic, trade and military presence in Latin America, and its stated ambition to continue to broaden these more

Chinese Naval Modernization: Altering the Balance of Power

Richard Fisher details China's naval modernization program and the potential impacts on U.S. interests in the Western more

China’s Space Plane Program
Briefing: USAF-HQ Strategic Studies Group

emailEmail this article
printPrint this article
downloadDownload as PDF

by Richard Fisher, Jr.
Published on August 24th, 2011

China is aggressively persuing a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) program of research that could lead to one or two early RLV concepts under consideration. The first could be similar in size in the U.S. Space Shuttle, but with less than a third of its cargo capacity. The other RLV proposal would not leave the atmosphere but would carry a second rocket stage that would put a small payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). China’s RLV program, however, is not nearly as transparent as the U.S. Space Shuttle program and the current status of China’s RLV program is not known. Data suggests that RLV research is well under way and that a smaller space plane called the Shenlong has been used to validate many space plane technologies. Scant data also suggests that pending a decision to proceed, China’s goal is to launch its RLV by about 2020, around the same time it plans to loft its 60 ton Space Station. It is not known whether China is meeting success in developing the requisite space plane technology, but in China’s official media the space plane gets little attention compared to the Space Station. China’s space plane program is also at the cutting edge of what appears to be a more ambitions military hypersonic vehicle program.

Read the Download file full briefing here.

back to top ^

Powered by eResources