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The People's Republic of China will replace all its imported communications and broadcast satellites with Chinese-made ones by 2010, according to the chief of the country's National Space Administration.

AFP reports that Sun Laiyan - PRC space chief - laid out the strategy in the government-controlled Beijing News. It seems that China currently has 12 comms/broadcast spacecraft operating, but only one was manufactured in the People's Republic.

"The rest were all bought from foreign companies," said Sun. He also said the Chinese space agency would complete plans and studies within three years for Moon landings and a joint probe to Mars in cooperation with Russia in 2009.

The PRC put a probe into lunar orbit last month, intended to map the entire surface of the Moon. Sun's agency has previously said it will deliver a robot lander to the Moon by 2012 and an astronaut by 2020.

Meanwhile, other Chinese officials outlined plans to build a new generation of heavy lift rockets, which would realise the PRC's ambitious space programme.

"The technological issues of the next generation of carrier rockets have basically been solved," said Zhang Yanhe of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence.

Yanhe's defence-sector colleagues have been working hard on rocketry in recent years in order to update the country's long range missile forces, which are feeble in comparison to those of the other major world powers.

Zhang said the new kit would "satisfy China's demands for technological development and the peaceful use of space for the next 30 to 50 years".

The AFP report is here. ®

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