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China to launch 15 to 16 satellites in 2009

Updated: 2009-03-09 15:28

BEIJING  -- China plans to launch 15 to 16 satellites this year, Zhang Jianqi, deputy chief commander of the manned space project, said here Monday.

"Though the global financial crisis is taking toll on world economy, it has no impact on China's space programs," Zhang, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, told media.

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 NPC and CPPCC 2009

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China is at present "batch-producing" the three spacecraft, Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, according to Zhang.

"This is the first time for the country to conduct researches and production on three spacecraft at the same time," he said.

China plans to launch Tiangong-1, an unmanned space module, into orbit by the end of 2010, he said.

The country plans to launch the Shenzhou-8 and Shenzhou-9 spacecraft in 2011, a former chief designer of the manned-space project said earlier.

Zhang said the country is selecting a new batch of taikonauts, which may include the country's first female taikonaut.

China has sent an average of eight satellites into space annually during the first two years of its 11th five-year-plan (2006-2010), and the number was 1.5 before its ninth five-year-plan (1996-2000), figures from the China Academy of Space Technology showed.

An editorial of the People's Daily has called on China's top political advisory body to made due contributions to help the country weather through difficulties.