A high-ranking mainland aerospace official who played a key role in developing the rocket that sent the first Chinese astronaut into space is facing bribery charges. Li Jianzhong , former president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (Calt), which manufactures the Long March rockets, was accused of graft offences involving more than 2 million yuan, official media reported yesterday. A number of other senior aerospace officials have been implicated and are under investigation. The mainland press also hinted that the case could lead to more scandals being exposed in one of the country's fastest-growing and most generously funded sectors. An unnamed senior Calt official told the Beijing-based Huaxia newspaper that more than 2 million yuan was involved. However, the official dismissed concerns that the scandal could affect work on the Shenzhou VI spacecraft scheduled for launch in the second half of this year. Soon after the mainland's first manned spacecraft launch in October 2003, central government graft busters began a probe into allegations that Li and other officials solicited bribes. Li was detained for questioning earlier last year. Li oversaw the development of the Long March 2F, the rocket booster used in the 2003 flight.