China’s new spacecraft—which resembles a Crew Dragon—just landed

Enlarge / China’s new spacecraft shown after landing Friday. It looks something like a Crew Dragon, no? (credit: CASC)

China’s new—and as yet unnamed—spacecraft safely returned to Earth on Friday after a three-day mission. Under the care of three parachutes, the spacecraft came to a rest in a Chinese desert at 1:49am ET (05:49 UTC). Images released by the Chinese space corporation showed a singed but intact spacecraft.

For China this was a historic flight, sending an uncrewed prototype of its next-generation spacecraft to an altitude of 8,000km. The mission also served to test a new variant of the country’s most powerful rocket, the Long March 5B, which also was deemed a success.

According to Space News, the spacecraft’s reentry velocity was 9km/s as it approached from a higher orbit. This is on par with the high-speed return made by NASA’s Orion spacecraft during its uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1 mission in 2014, when the capsule reached a peak altitude of 5,800km.

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