China Unveils Ambitious Plan to Launch Hypersonic Space Planes with Giant Rail Gun

China Unveils Ambitious Plan to Launch Hypersonic Space Planes with Giant Rail Gun

Chinese scientists are reportedly developing a gargantuan electromagnetic rail gun capable of launching hypersonic planes into space. According to reports from the South China Morning Post (SCMP), this groundbreaking technology could revolutionize the space industry by dramatically reducing launch costs and paving the way for a new era of space exploration.

China Unveils Ambitious Plan to Launch Hypersonic Space Planes with Giant Rail Gun

The proposed rail gun system, a colossal electromagnetic launch track, is designed to accelerate a Boeing 747-sized space plane to an astonishing speed of Mach 1.6, nearly twice the speed of sound. Weighing a staggering 50 metric tons and exceeding 129 feet (39.3 meters) in length, these gargantuan space planes would dwarf even the Boeing 737 jetliner.

The project, dubbed “Tengyun,” has been a focal point of Chinese scientific research since 2016, with scientists expressing confidence in their ability to achieve a breakthrough in the near future. Once launched by the rail gun, the space plane would rely on its own propulsion system to reach orbit, potentially ushering in a new era of cost-effective space travel.



Li Shaowei, the lead scientist on the Tengyun project, underscored the significance of this endeavor in a paper published in the journal Acta Aeronautica, stating, “Electromagnetic launch technology provides a promising solution to overcome these challenges and has emerged as a strategic frontier technology being pursued by the world’s leading nations.”

To test and refine their theories, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) will utilize the 1.2-mile (1.93 km) long low-vacuum track high-speed maglev test facility in Datong. Originally designed for magnetic levitation train technology, this facility boasts the ability to propel heavy objects at speeds up to 621 mph (1,000 kph).


hypersonic space planes


Furthermore, ambitious plans are in place to extend the Datong facility to a staggering 37.2 miles (60 kph), with the goal of achieving a maximum operating speed of 3107 mph (5,000 kph) in the future. Described as one of the most “ambitious electromagnetic propulsion facilities on the planet,” this cutting-edge lab will play a crucial role in gathering scientific data for the space electromagnetic launch project.

While China forges ahead with this audacious endeavor, it is not alone in its pursuit of electromagnetic space launch systems and hypersonic planes. NASA and the U.S. Navy have previously explored similar technologies, although their efforts have been hindered by technical challenges and funding constraints.

As the race to develop cost-effective and efficient space launch systems intensifies, China’s ambitious rail gun project stands as a testament to the nation’s unwavering commitment to scientific advancement and its determination to establish itself as a leader in the burgeoning space industry.