SHANGHAI, March 18 (Reuters) - China plans to begin offering recoverable satellites to commercial users between 2019 and 2020, the official state news agency Xinhua reported.
The country has successfully brought back more than 20 satellites from space since 1975 and is confident its technology is highly reliable, said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology, a satellite and spacecraft maker.
"We plan to upgrade this technology in order to satisfy the needs of commercial users," he was quoted as saying.
The satellites allow scientists to send experiments into space on unmanned missions and recover the results. China has used these satellites in the past to send seeds into space, developing new types of plants from seeds that have been exposed to zero gravity and cosmic radiation.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been keen to advance China's space programme which lags its counterparts in the United States and Russia, saying it is needed to enhance national security and defence. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)