Chinese Microgravity Capsule Lands Safely Back on Earth

china_flagChina’s first retrievable microgravity satellite, SJ-10, landed safely back on Earth on Monday after a 12-day stay in low Earth orbit.

The recoverable capsule from the research probe, launched on April 6, touched down at around 4:30 p.m. at the planned landing area in Siziwang Banner in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, retrievers said.

The capsule was transferred to the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), which will hand over the equipment aboard the capsule to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) for further analysis and assessment.

The re-entry capsule separated from the orbital module of the probe about 15 minutes before its landing. The latter will remain in orbit before burning away.

It is the 24th retrievable satellite China has successfully recovered. The landing also marked the first time such a satellite has been recovered in Siziwang Banner.

During its 12-day journey in space, 19 experiments on microgravity and life sciences were carried out on board.

  • Vladislaw

    Is this like the old defense sats that dropped the film canisters?

  • Sam Moore

    It’s a modified version of the FSW film-return recon sat series, similar to the relationship between the Russian Foton and Bion missions and Zenit recon sats.

  • Vladislaw

    And the Chinese doing this is news worthy why? Just curious.

  • Sam Moore

    Several reasons. Firstly, the sat contains some interesting experiments; most notably they sent up early -stage mouse embryos to monitor development, which from preliminary seems to have gone fine. That opens the possibility of mammalian reproduction in microgravity being possible, with obvious effects on space settlement work.
    Secondly, it tells us the Chinese (or at least CAS) are interested in something that would seem to have little value outside space settlement.
    Thirdly, the thing contains ESA joint experiments, increasing the level of direct chinese-european co-operation in space
    And lastly, it’s only the second fully scientific sat the chinese have launched, the previous ones having been semi-military ones managed by the PLA. We can expect a lot more of them in future, with major effect on worldwide space science.

  • savuporo

    Because there are only so few engineering and scientific experiments returned from orbit.

  • windbourne

    Who said it was fully scientific?

  • Sam Moore

    Well, setting aside the fact that’s it’s managed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the experiments are all in the public literature (http://english.nssc.cas.cn/ns/NU/201410/W020141016603618747022.pdf ) what else would it even be? There’s hardly a military demand for microgravity experiments, and the FSW sats became obsolete for reconnaissance a full decade ago.