A United States Space Force officer, Lieutenant General Chance Saltzman, the Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear, said that China's much-anticipated new hypersonic weapon system is an orbital device and it can be able to stay in space for an extended period of time.
According to the Financial Times (FT)'s report back on October 16, China had tested a hypersonic vehicle that fired a missile that exceeded the speed of sound by at least fivefold.
At an online event hosted by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute, Saltzman made some statements about China’s suborbital hypersonic glider. He said that the words used about the vehicle are important in order to understand what the discussion is about.
The term hypersonic defines speeds above Mach 5, five times the speed of sound. Suborbital defines objects that can reach space but do not enter the orbit around the Earth.
Saltzman said, “This is a categorically different system because a fractional orbit is different than suborbital. A fractional orbit means it can stay on orbit as long as the user determines and then it de-orbits it as a part of the flight path."
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