China is planning its next moon mission this year to get some more samples and another mission to Mars next year.
Shortly after the successful landing of the Chang'e-4 probe on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3, China's next spacecraft is going back to the moon at the end of this year to make its second of the four moon missions.
Marked as first in the history of space exploration, Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon, then sent back to Earth photos of the probe's lander and the rover taking snapshots of each other. Chang'e is a name of the Chinese moon goddess.
China's New Planned Missions
Wu Yanhua, the China National Space Administration deputy chief, announced on Monday that the agency is sending Chang'e-5 at the end of the year to collect samples from the near side of the moon. If the mission will be successful, these samples would be the first since 1976.
The China National Space Administration is the Chinese equivalent of NASA. Also, Wu said that China is working to send a probe to the Red Planet.
China is also building its own space station called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace. It is expected to begin its operations in 2022, however, the space agency is still deciding whether to send astronauts to the moon.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in full support of China's space explorations as he repeatedly said that he has lofty ambitions to make China a space power.
Chang'e-4 Successful Launch
After its successful landing on the moon earlier this month, the Chang'e-4, a lander weighing 1.3 tons, planted potato seeds and placed silkworm eggs in a chamber and are sustained by natural light and nutrition on the moon.
It also deployed a mini-rover called Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, to explore the surrounding terrain on the moon.
"All these are first-time breakthroughs for humankind," said Wu. "They are bound to make significant impacts on both China and the world."
A German instrument that will measure the radiation levels is also attached to the lander. The data that will be collected could be useful for future human missions on the far side of the moon.