A high ranking member of China's secretive space agency has surprisingly revealed details on the nation's ambitious plans for exploring both the moon and Mars.
Architect of the country's impending missions, Wu Weiren, provided the BBC with remarkable insight into the heretofore unknown intentions for China's space agency.
He told the broadcaster that they hope to soon both orbit as well as land on the moon in order to obtain samples from the celestial body.
That would merely be the initial stage of China's presence on the moon as Weiren says that they aim to ultimately establish a manned research base there.
A key factor in their aspirations reside on the far side of the moon, where China believes there may be water and ice that could prove to be valuable resources to future lunar denizens.
However, as might be expected given the state of current space exploration, China has begun setting their sights on Mars as a longterm goal for exploration.
In an intriguing revelation, Weiren indicated that the Chinese space agency was limited by their own government as far as allocating resources towards a Martian mission.
With that stance seemingly having changed, the agency is confident that it will reach the Red Planet by 2021 in an elaborate mission.
"We will orbit Mars, land, and deploy a rover - all in one mission," Weiren declared to the BBC.
Despite their lofty expectations, China faces a unique challenge due to the nature of their space agency.
Since it is part of the Chinese military, NASA is forbidden for working with them and the European Space Agency has only collaborated with them on one mission.
As such, the isolationist space agency has been forced to rely on Russian help as well as their own vast resources of scientists.
Weiren expressed hope that the stalemate with the United States can come to an end and both countries could work together to explore space.
Whether that proves to be case remains to be seen, but it may be in everyone's best interests rather than a space war over land and resources from the moon and beyond.
Source: BBC News