A US Space Force official, Lt. Gen. Chance Saltzman, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear, has claimed that China's new hypersonic weapons system is an orbital device and can stay in space for an extended period of time.
At an online event organized by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute, Saltzman made some remarks about China's suborbital hypersonic glider. He said that the words used about the vehicle are important to understand what exactly we are talking about .
The term hypersonic defines speeds greater than Mach 5 , five times the speed of sound. Suborbital defines objects that can reach space but do not enter the orbit around the Earth.
“This is a categorically different system because a fractional orbit is different from a suborbital one. A fractional orbit means that it can stay in orbit for as long as the user determines and then deorbits it as part of the flight path.
Saltzman suggests that the Chinese system is designed to spend time in space.
China's state-run China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) announced that a suborbital reuse demonstration had been conducted from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's Inner Mongolia region.