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China are planning on launching an experimental spaceplane with a NET June launch date, which is likely the Tengfei-1. For this launch it will be launching on the Long March 2F. However in 2030 the Tengfei-1 is planned to airlaunched on a scramjet airplane which would probably reach ~Mach 5, where from there the spaceplane would reach orbit under it's own propulsion (this launch system would be called Tengyun). For the Long March 2F launch, they may have the option of a direct orbital insertion. Is there any confirmation on whether or not the spaceplane will use it's own propulsion to reach orbit?

Tengfei-1 Spaceplane enter image description here

Tengyun Launch System

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Even if it needs to move to its final orbit on its own, at the time it separates from the rocket, it's already in some sorts of low-LEO. $\endgroup$ – user3528438 Jun 14 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @user3528438 how do you know that it is not sub-orbital at that point? Usually a trajectory is not considered in an orbit unless it can go around at least once without intersecting the Earth or enough atmosphere to bring it down. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 14 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Well I actually thought about this. Assuming they don't want to ditch the orbiter in Pacific like what they do with ICBM tests, there's not really enough space between the launch site (Jiuquan, north-west China) and the usual landing site (Inner-Mongolia, center-north China). The closest return window to Inner-Mongolia is 21 hours after launching from Jiuquan. $\endgroup$ – user3528438 Jun 15 at 0:20
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    $\begingroup$ Yea, there are a lot of missing details. The test flight on a Long March 2F appears to just be a check ride before moving to the true operational mode, which is a tandem ride at Mach 5 and a top side release. If the spacecraft can’t light its engine, it’s going to have to glide thru the shock cone and the scramjet exhaust, make it past the tail without losing control, then light the engine. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Stevens Jun 15 at 3:00
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    $\begingroup$ globaltimes.cn/content/1092397.shtml Very confusing. The scramjet engine will make liquid oxygen. Not sure if it’s used by the “Spaceplane” they do call it that, so they imply it can operate out of the atmosphere. Could also be interpreted that it’s used by the carried craft, or both. $\endgroup$ – Anthony Stevens Jun 15 at 4:03

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