RE: China tested a FOBS?

From: Bob Christy via Seesat-l <>
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2021 11:48:36 +0100
Just to muddy the waters:

This morning, a Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesman addressed what he called
the "hypersonic missile" question.

He seemed to admit there had been a spaceplane test but, in the usual
Chinese fashion, there was a degree of ambiguity.

However, consider this timetable from earlier this year

June 30 - Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, objects from launch designated by
Space-Track as 2021-059
July 1 - Soyuz 2/Fregat from Vostochny, objects from launch designated by
Space-Track as 2021-061
July 3 - CZ 2D from Taiyuan, objects from launch designated by Space-Track
as 2021-062
July 4 - CZ 4C from Jiuquan, objects from launch designated by Space-Track
as 2021-063

Jul 4 - SpaceTrack launch numbers 061, 062 and 063 revised downwards to 060,
061, 062 respectively.

Space-Track routinely reserves Launch Numbers and Catalogue Numbers for
known events where data are not yet available. The jump from 2021-059 to
2021-061 was a surprise but not unprecedented. Speculation among
space-watchers was along the lines of  '...maybe something from Iran but
TLEs were not yet available'. Alternatively, it may have been an error but
it would have been a big one. Space-Track was notified by Twitter users at
the time but no correction was made so the likelihood of a mistake is low.

In the event, the gap was never filled and the numbers were subsequently
shuffled downwards.

It points, possibly,  to US authorities being aware of an orbital class
launch between the Falcon 9 on June 30 and The Soyuz on July 1. However, if
it left nothing in orbit then there was nothing to catalogue - hence
'cancelling the reservation'.

It's slightly outside the Financial Times window of Jul 19 - Aug 24 but that
was based on a CZ 2C mission. The earlier space-plane test of 2020 used a CZ
2F, the Shenzhou launcher, and NOTAMs indicate it probably landed in the
Taklaman Desert, western China.

Notes on that mission:

Robert Christy

-----Original Message-----
From: Seesat-l <> On Behalf Of
Marco Langbroek via Seesat-l
Sent: 16 October 2021 21:13
Subject: China tested a FOBS?

Intelligence rumour that China last August tested a FOBS (Fractional Orbital
Bombardment System) - a missile that briefly goes in orbit, like a
satellite, and then is deorbitted to strike a target:


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