Chinese secret spaceplane just delivered six mysterious objects into orbit

China's secret robotic spaceplane called Shenlong ("Divine Dragon") delivered six objects into Earth orbit a few days ago. Their purpose is unknown except, of course, to the China government.

Notably, the Chinese launch was just before the US Space Force will will again launch its own secret space plane, the X-37B, on December 28 on a secret mission.

"These are two of the most watched objects on orbit while they're on orbit. It's probably no coincidence that they're trying to match us in timing and sequence of this," said General Chance Saltzman, US Space Force's Chief of Space Operation.


China's space plane has exhibited similar behaviors in the past. On its two previous missions — which launched in September 2020 and August 2022, respectively — the spacecraft was seen releasing a small unknown object into orbit. It was speculated that the objects could be service modules, test articles for practicing placing payloads into orbit, or perhaps even small satellites used to monitor the space plane, SpaceNews wrote in November 2022.