China put a communications satellite into orbit on Saturday, 15th November, the first of nearly a dozen orbiters the country plans to launch by the end of next year. The Zhongxing 20, the fourth launch since China’s first manned space flight last month, blasted off atop a Long March 3A rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan. The next satellite, a “geospace exploration” device, would go up in December. China would launch an average of 10 satellites a year from 2006 to 2010, double the pace of the planned 2001 to 2006 launch schedule, To serve national economic growth, defense and scientific research purposes, the country will send up to nine satellites into space next year alone.
A second manned mission would take place in 2005, and said the number of astronauts for that flight would be decided after analyzing data from the debut flight.Last month, China became the third nation after the United States and the former Soviet Union, now Russia, to put a person into space. A single astronaut in the Shenzhou V craft orbited the Earth 14 times in a mission lasting just under one day.