The Peoples’ Republic of China said on Friday that it will launch a second lunar probe in October next year and could send a manned mission as early as 2017.
The second lunar probe, dubbed Chang’e 2, builds on the experience the Chinese built when they lobbed Chang’e 1 onto the surface of the Moon in March.
Official newspaper the China Daily said that Chang’e 2 will have a higher resolution camera and will orbit closer to the surface. China is also planning a third mission in 2015 that will land on the Moon, collect samples of rock and return them to Earth.
And China may have a manned mission landing on the Moon as early as 2017. China also plans a Mars mission in the future.
The country also has ambitious plans to launch a space station and to conduct scientific deep space experiments.
China is engaged in a space race with other Asian countries including India and South Korea, but maintains that its space program is for peaceful and not for military purposes.