Six Unidentified Objects Are Trailing China's Mysterious Robotic Spacecraft

China's third test flight of a robotic, reusable spacecraft has launched six tiny objects into orbit, raising more questions than answers.

speculatively dubbed 'wingmen' by interested amateur astronomers.

The experimental orbital aircraft, named Shenlong Chinese for divine dragon was launched from 

the Long March 2F rocket on Thursday, December 14 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, 

prior to descending into a low orbit akin to earlier test missions conducted in August 2022 and September 2020.

During those voyages, unidentified objects were also tracked in the spacecraft's trail. 

believed, according to SpaceNews' Andrew Jones, to be made up of "inspector satellites" that are meant to watch the test vehicle and maybe help ensure a safe return to Earth.

The objects were probably small Chinese-developed Banxing satellites, which were used to relay photos of other spacecraft in the past, based on their radio transmissions.

Shenlong launched six new objects four days following its most recent launch; these have been named OBJECT A through F by the satellite tracking community.

The objects on X have been referred to as enigmatic wingmen by amateur astronomer Scott Tilley.

He clarified to Brett Tingley of that each gadget emits a variety of signals, only some of which carry trace quantities of data.

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