China’s third test mission of its reusable, robotic spacecraft, Shenlong, has sparked speculation as it cast six small objects into orbit, referred to as “wingmen” by amateur skywatchers. The spacecraft was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and deployed these objects after falling into a low orbit. Similar unidentified objects were tracked during previous test missions, believed to be “inspector satellites” assisting in the safe return of the test vehicle.
More interesting observations from the Chinese 'spaceplane' launch. OBJECT D is also emitting intermittently on S-band using same modulation as OBJECT A. @plugger_lockett in the Perth AU area recorded the data yesterday. 🧵⬇️ pic.twitter.com/iS4CzW3Ti6
The recent deployment of six objects, designated OBJECT A to F, has intrigued observers, with their emissions presenting a mix of signals. The nature and purpose of these objects remain undisclosed, contributing to the mystery surrounding China’s space endeavors. Meanwhile, the US, with its own secretive X-37B reusable space plane, is likely monitoring China’s activities closely. The X-37B and Shenlong share similarities in their experimental and secretive nature, underscoring the competitive and guarded nature of space exploration.