Beijing: China plans to launch 21 rockets with 30 satellites in 2012, the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation (CASC) said on Wednesday.

The country's ambitious space programme will see a steady increase in the number of space launches in the near future. Last year, China launched 20 rockets with 25 satellites to become the world's second country after Russia in terms of the amount of space launches.

As part of the 2012 schedule, China will launch six more geostationary satellites of the Beidou-2 (Compass) system to expand its own global positioning network to 16 satellites as an alternative to US GPS and Russian Glonass.

Another key event on the Chinese space industry calendar is the launch of Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with the currently orbiting Tiangong-1 vessel as part of an ambitious project to start building a 60-tonne space station by about 2020.