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China to launch 25 satellites in 2011

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An unrelated photo of a NASA satellite.

BEIJING (PTI): China has set up a target of launching 20 rockets and 25 satellites into space by the end of this year, making it the second country after Russia to accomplish that many launches in a year.

"This year, we are supposed to launch 20 rockets and 25 satellites, a number that would put China in second place after Russia," Yuan Jiajun, deputy general manager of China Aerospace and Technology Corp, said asserting that the country's space projects have entered a stage of high-intensity development and launching.

He did not clarify how many satellites and rockets have been launched in the first 10 months of 2011.

China launched 15 rockets to send 20 satellites in to space in 2010, comparable numbers to the US and Russia, historically the world's two most prolific launchers of spacecraft, Yuan said.

"It is an arduous process and a great challenge for us to cope with the high intensity of satellite launching. It requires us to be equipped with sufficient capacity," state-run news agency Xinhua quoted him as saying.

At the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest Gobi desert, a total of eight satellites will be launched within the year along with the country's first space lab module, Tiangong-1, which blasted off in September to await docking with the spacecraft Shenzhou-8, ready to take off in early November from the same launch base.

While preparation work for the launch of Shenzhou-8 is in its final stages, testing on another satellite is going on at the same time at the assembly and testing center, 1.5 km away from the launch pad.

Cui Jijun, director of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, said the high intensity that his team was expected to maintain had "become a normal status of our daily work. The high-intensity launching has become normalized while it was only periodical years ago."

As one of China's three satellite launch bases in use, the Jiuquan site has undertaken the majority of China's launching missions.

"Just like TV sets are assembled in plants around the clock, our daily work of launching satellites is quite normal and it is our duty," Cui said.

To cope with increased demand over the years, equipment has been dramatically upgraded and the numbers of personnel increased, Cui said.

He noted, however, that China's space technologies still lag behind the advanced levels of some countries.

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China  Satellites  Rocket  
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