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China’s space plane deployed 6 mysterious ‘wingmen,’ and no one knows what they are

Published Dec 19th, 2023 10:03PM EST
View of Earth from space
Image: studio023 / Adobe

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Just four days after launching into space on its third mission, China’s space plane has apparently released six “mysterious wingmen” into orbit around the planet, and a few of them seem to be communicating in some way.

Amateur spacecraft trackers around the world are currently tracking the objects. The objects have been designated OBJECT A, B, C, D, E, and F. And according to amateur astronomer and satellite tracker Scott Tilley, OBJECT A is emitting signals similar to those emitted by objects that China’s space plan released during its previous missions.

Tilley told Space.com that OBJECT A or a nearby emission is very similar to “wingman” emissions detected during earlier missions run by China’s space plane. According to what these spacecraft trackers have seen, though, the objects only appear to be sending signals intermittently.

Further, Tilley believes that OBJECT A could be orbiting OBJECT B, which he says could even be the space plane itself. He discusses this idea in-depth within a thread on X (formerly Twitter), and it’s honestly really intriguing to look through.

China’s space plane exhibited similar behavior in the past when it released a mysterious object into orbit during its second mission, which it is believed to have docked with multiple times. Nobody knows what that object was or even why the space plane docked with it.

If the space plane did indeed release six mysterious wingmen into orbit, then it’s likely we’ll see more theories about what they are across social media and blogs in the coming months. The exact nature of the missions surrounding China’s space plane, and even the nature of missions surrounding the US X-37B space plane, are huge question marks for everyone.

Only time will tell if the exact nature and point of these objects becomes clear. For now, it seems China’s space plane has some work to do, and these mysterious wingmen could be a large part of that.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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