Anything related to hypersonic flight interests the militaries of many countries. But China's suborbital space plane development project was first supported by a civilian organization rather than defense companies.
Here's What We Know
On Sept. 7, the National Natural Science Foundation of the People's Republic of China funded a project that is developing a hypersonic transportation system. The amount of investment is not specified. The American company SpaceX is working on a similar project, but it plans to use spaceports and reusable Starship rockets.
China's program involves delivering passengers from airports. The hypersonic vehicle will ascend to a height of 120 km, after which it will separate from the carrier plane and go to hypersonic speed.
China plans to build a reusable suborbital plane for 10 passengers by 2035. A 100-passenger vehicle is expected by 2045. Both planes will be able to reach speeds over 5 Mach (6174 km/h).
A peculiarity of China's hypersonic development is the development of engines that take oxygen from the atmosphere for the combustion reaction. Such a solution frees up space for passengers or additional cargo because there is no need to store oxygen tanks, as SpaceX does.