Space scientists in Shanghai said their new Long March 4 launcher would carry out many more flights this year as the country gives a boost to its aerospace ambitions. 'The improvements made in the Long March 4 are top secret,' Chen Xingquan, director of the administrative office of the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau, said. Mr Chen said state-of-the-art technology employed in the latest Fengyun 1-D weather forecasting satellite over its predecessor, the Fengyun 1-C, made the new satellite 'among the most advanced in the world'. The director said: 'The [older] Fengyun 1-C provides weather data to countries around the world, including the United States', adding that the updated version would be more sophisticated and more reliable. He said the satellite would be launched in the first half of the year, in line with the central Government's call for a new boost in space achievements this year. Mr Chen also confirmed the Shanghai Aerospace Bureau would 'see launches of about 10 rockets, spacecraft and satellites this year', but declined to give details on what type of spacecraft might be used. Just over a year ago, China successfully launched and recovered its second unmanned spacecraft as part of a drive to send its first astronaut into space. Mr Chen said data from the Fengyun 1-D satellite would 'be of great use in planning the logistics of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing', but did not elaborate. Since the creation of China's space programme decades ago, Shanghai has played a vital role in designing rockets. The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, which originally concentrated on developing tactical missile systems, later applied that military technology to launchers, according to a report by the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. The academy was the main designer of the Long March 4 series of launchers, and helped develop the DF-5 intercontinental ballistic missile. The Shanghai academy also works on 'satellites, tactical missiles, civilian products, and the components and instruments for rocket inertial guidance and stabilisation systems', the US federation said in a report on China's space programme.