A three-mile-long runway in a remote patch of Chinese desert, hundreds of miles from any cities, appears to be undergoing an expansion. Satellite imagery from the commercial company Maxar shows around a dozen large concrete buildings under construction near the landing strip. The new facilities seem to indicate the runway’s role may be expanding.
The runway, on the edge of China’s former nuclear weapons test range at Lop Nur, sprung from nowhere in 2016. In 2020, observers believe that China landed a highly classified “space plane” there. America has two space planes, the X-37b, which are thought to conduct classified missions for the Air Force.