China Plans Second Moon Mission for Year-End, Targets Mars in 2020


Riding on its success of landing a rover on the far side of the Moon earlier in January, China's space agency is planning to launch another mission to the Moon by the end of 2019 and a mission to Mars as early as 2020, the media reported.
The plans underscore China's ambitions in space at a time when the US is curtailing NASA's budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
The China National Space Administration is working to send a probe to the Red Planet, said Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the agency.
"China will carry out its first-ever exploration mission to Mars around 2020," he said.
The space agency plans to launch a Chang’e-5 mission at the end of the year with the goal of collecting samples from the near side of the moon, Wu said. They would be the first samples retrieved since 1976.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has said that he has "lofty ambitions" to turn China into a space power. 

China is building its own space station called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, which is expected to be operational in 2022. But the agency is still deciding whether to send astronauts to the Moon, Wu said Monday. 


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