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Satellite Launches Planned

CHINA plans to launch 15 or 16 satellites this year, Zhang Jianqi, deputy chief commander of the manned space project, said in Beijing yesterday.

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

The Shenzhou VIII, Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X spacecraft are being built at the same time, Zhang said.

"This is the first time the country has conducted research 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 next year, he said.

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


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