01:21 GMT +318 November 2019
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    A Long March-2C carrier rocket carrying Yaogan-30 satellites lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, China July 26, 2019

    China Borrows Elon Musk’s Know-How to Better Guide Rocket Stages During Landing (Videos)

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    China’s Chang Zheng 2C rocket appeared to house four steerable grid fins, which were first tested on SpaceX’s first-stage demonstration test vehicle, the reusable, Falcon 9 rocket back in 2014.

    Beijing’s expendable launch system Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) that sent into orbit three Yaogan 30 satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on Friday, had grid fins that allowed for greater precision in control of the landing location during the first rocket stage.

    The images of the rocket, published by Chinese media, sport among other things four grid fins mounted on the connector between the first and the second stages. As the stages separate after the launch, the connector with the lattice fins remain on the first stage making it possible to better steer the part of the rocket as it falls to Earth, having fulfilled its function.

    The moment is clearly captured in videos posted to Chinese microblog Weibo, which focus on the first stage’s vertical, well-guided descent to the planet’s surface; and they quickly went viral on Twitter.

    Meanwhile, the used stages of Chinese rockets regularly destroying buildings in the country are meanwhile a common subject of videos and general posts on Chinese social media.

    Such lattice fins were first used for the above purpose by Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX to provide well-guided landing on Earth for Falcon 9’s first stages. The entrepreneur and top engineer behind Tesla’s and SpaceX’s widely covered projects earlier applauded the PRC’s national space programme reacting to the news about the country deorbiting its preliminary space lab Tiangong-2 (which means “heavenly place”) designed as a test run for various technologies before a bigger space station is sent into orbit in 2020.

    “This is actually a good thing btw. China is making amazing progress in space, rapidly iterating on rocket & space station technology. Great respect”, Musk tweeted on 19 July.


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