China's space program says it plans to attempt the first-ever landing of a lunar probe on the moon's far side.

Zou Yongliao from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' moon exploration department told state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday that the Chang'e 4 mission is planned for sometime before 2020.

Zou said the objective of the mission would be to study geological conditions on the moon's far side, also known as the dark side. Radio transmissions from Earth are unable to reach the far side, making it an excellent location to place a radio telescope for use by astronomers.

China's next lunar mission is scheduled for 2017, when it will attempt to land an unmanned spaceship on the moon before returning to Earth with samples.