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China's Spaceplane Program

Spaceplanes are one area in which China seeks to mimic or compete with U.S. technology. Inspired by the U.S. Space Shuttle and more recently by the Boeing X-37B orbital test vehicle, China has several ongoing projects to develop reusable launch vehicles capable of flight in both air and space. While the space industry in China is dominated by state-owned megacorporations, in recent years private companies have begun to enter the spaceplane market. This report will examine each of China’s known spaceplane projects, offer context about China’s overall space plans and ambitions, and provide an analysis of the applications and relative advantages of spaceplane technology.

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