Asia

China plans to land probes on far side of moon, Mars by 2020

China has set out its space plans for the next five years, including soft landing a probe on the far side of the moon around 2018 and launching its first Mars probe by 2020.

China says in a white paper released Tuesday that it is determined to speed up the development of its space industry. While Russia and the United States have more experience in space travel, China's military-backed program has already made steady progress in a comparatively short time.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk, landed a rover on the moon, and launched two experimental space stations.

The white paper reiterated plans to launch China's first Mars probe to explore and bring back samples of the red planet by 2020.