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China Unveils Ambitious Space Program For 2008 Replete With 15 Rocket Launches; 17 Satellites Going Up, Along With Shenzhou VII Spacecraft

By | January 14, 2008

      A senior Chinese leader unveiled an ambitious Sino space plan for 2008 including launch of a manned spacecraft, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

      Huang Qiang, secretary general of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, or COSTIND, announced the plans.

      China this year will launch 15 rockets and orbit 17 satellites, according to Huang. However, he didn’t give details of lifter types, launch dates, payloads or other information.

      As well, China will send its Shenzhou VII spacecraft aloft, in the third space mission for the populous Asian nation, Huang announced.

      In contrast, the United States hopes to launch six manned space shuttle missions this year, a compressed schedule thanks to fuel gauge sensor problems in Space Shuttle Atlantis.

      Beginning in 2010, the United States will lose the capability to place astronauts in space, when the space shuttle fleet is mandated to retire. Meanwhile, China may well go on to expand its space program, including placing taikonauts in near-Earth orbit, and then sending them on to the moon, where an unmanned Chinese spacecraft now is orbiting the nearest heavenly body.

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