US space plane spying on China: reports
America's classified X-37B space plane is probably spying on China, Spaceflight magazine and Chinese newspapers reported.
Beijing launched its first space station module Tiangong 1 into orbit on Sept. 29, marking a major milestone in the rapidly expanding Chinese space program.
Some Chinese think the move may trigger “Star Wars” between the two countries, reports said Monday.
According to the reports, the U.S. space plane approached the Tiangong 1, adding that its mission was to eavesdrop on the Chinese laboratory.
The unpiloted space plane was launched into orbit by the U.S. Air Force in March last year and has yet to return to Earth.
BBC News said the Pentagon has steadfastly refused to discuss its mission but amateur space trackers have noted how its path around the globe is nearly identical to China's space lab, Tiangong-1.
The current mission was launched on an Atlas rocket and put into a low orbit, a little over 300km up, with an inclination of 42.79 degrees with respect to the equator ― an unusual profile for a U.S. military mission which would normally go into an orbit that circles the poles, the BBC said.
The space lab was launched in September with an inclination of 42.78 degrees.
Chinese scholars raised the possibility that the U.S. military space plane may attack the Chinese space lab. It poses a serious threat to China’s space program and assets, they said.