China calls missile launch 'routine test' of new technology
BEIJING (AP) — China said Monday its launch of a new spacecraft was merely a test to see whether the vehicle could be re-used.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the launch involved a spacecraft rather than a missile and was of “great significance for reducing the use-cost of spacecraft and could provide a convenient and affordable way to make a round trip for mankind’s peaceful use of space.”
China’s space program is run by its military and is closely tied to its agenda of building hypersonic missiles and other technologies that could alter the balance of power with the United States.
“China will work together with other countries in the world for the peaceful use of space and the benefit of mankind," Zhao said.
Zhao's comments on the August test came days after China launched a second three-person crew to staff its space station on a six-month mission.
Alongside its space program, China's expansion into hypersonic missile technology and other advanced fields has raised concerns as Beijing becomes increasingly assertive over its claims to seas and islands in the South China and East China Seas and to large chunks of territory along its disputed high-mountain border with India.