China's space program has not been affected by the global financial crisis and 15 to 16 satellites are expected to be launched this year, said Zhang Jianqi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of China's Manned Space Engineering Program and Deputy Director-General of the General Armament Department of the People's Liberation Army.
Three spaceships, the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, are being developed and manufactured. This is the first time that China is developing and producing three spacecraft simultaneously, and it is also the first time that the spacecraft will be used as space shuttles. In the initial plan, Tiangong-1 will be launched at the end of 2010.
The selection and training of the second group of taikonauts is underway, said Zhang. "We have taken into full consideration the needs and aspirations of women, and will send female taikonauts into outer space as early as possible."
By People's Daily Online