China is developing its homegrown reusable space plane, which observers said could penetrate the anti-missile system once used for military purposes.
The reusable spacecraft can transport people or payloads in orbit from any airport and return to earth, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
Unlike rockets which have to be recycled, the space plane will revolutionize space transportation, Zhang Hongwen, president of the Third Academy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) and a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told CCTV.
Although still at an early stage of research, the space plane will be capable of sending tourists to space, launching satellites and supplying the space station, providing emergency space rescue and cheap and timely space launching services, Zhang said.
The CCTV report showed that the space plane is composed of two planes, with the larger aircraft acting as a carrier aircraft.
A military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the core technology of the larger aircraft is an air-breathing rocket engine using hydrogen fuel.
Such an engine could liquefy oxygen, and then fuel the aircraft with liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen while flying in the atmosphere. The liquid fuel could accelerate the flight in space, with speeds potentially reaching 22 times the speed of sound, the expert said.
The larger aircraft, once used as a military aircraft, will be difficult to intercept by current anti-missile systems, he added.