China’s Shen Long vs. U.S.’s X-37B


Chinese spaceplane, a screen shut from a CCTV Military channel program

Unconfirmed Chinese aerospace plane hanged outside of a Hong-6 (bomber-6) is ready to take off. The two Chinese characters are “Shen Long” (神龙), meaing magic dragon. This is likely to be national program that is as top as “Shen Zhou” (神舟) manned vehicle, “Shen Wei” (神威) super computer, “Shen Guang” (神光) high energy laser system.

On Dec. 122, 2007, this photo was released to several military websites.

As soon as the US Air-force launched its spaceplane demonstrator X-37B for the first time on April 24, the Chinese news media reported a Chinese spaceplane demonstrator has also been successfully tested in flight for the first time (see 中国空天实验样机成功首飞 多项难题获突破). No detailed is given in the report. The program lead is Wang Chun (王纯) of AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Design & Research Institue. It can be interpreted that China is in the competition. The above are photos that come with the report.

Now, Huanqiu news reported that the above piece was a rumor. It has disappeared from all major Chinese websites. The chief editor Xu Zelong (徐泽龙) of (中国航空报) explains: “Some new media misunderstood the original article. Then, major media websites started forwarding it. Untrue news was spread out. We never said that China successfully tested spaceplane demonstrator. We are trying to Clear up the rumor. I hope all major media cooperate, eliminate this rumor.”

This Arouses more curiosity. I did a Google search and found some related information.

This article ” ‘Shen Long’ a demonstrator of a major special project of some aviation model that can cross atmophere” (“神龙”航空某型号重大专项跨大气层飞行器演示样机(验证机) dated probably in late 2007) indicates that it is called “863” project and it has been shown on CCTV Channel 7.

This article “Chinese ‘Shen Long’ spaceplane appears stunningly” (中国“神龙”空天飞机惊艳亮相 dated December 12, 2007) gives some technical details: First, it is the first time in China that a flight vehicle design comes up with a demonstrator from a fully digital design and management. The design environment has got attention from French company Dassault Aviation. Second, it adopts the metal integrated thermal protection technology and active thermal protection technology, which are better than ceramics used by the USA and Russia. Hence, it can achieve from 0 to 25 Mach hypersonic flight. Third, The special hybrid engine system has a break through. Fourth, The remote control center has been established in the southwest area of China. This indicates that the Chinese spaceplane has finished the engineering phase. This series of five articles has a very detailed review of spaceplane technology and history. It quoted Cal Tech trained aero-dynamics expert Dr. Zhuang Fenggan that the Chinese “Shen Long ” spaceplane will have the first flight within three years.

Below are additional photos found on the internet. Some are already more than two years old.

Designs of Chinese spaceplane imagined by foreigners. Who knows whether they were drawn by Chinese or non-Chinese.


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One Response to “China’s Shen Long vs. U.S.’s X-37B”

  1. Milo Piluso Says:

    Awesome images! I adore the post so much! 😉

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