China wants to put astronauts on the moon by 2036, a senior space official said.
China must “raise its abilities and use the next 15 to 20 years to realize manned lunar exploration goals, and take a firm step for the Chinese people in breaking ground in the utilization of space”, Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin, deputy commander of the China Manned Space Program, said.
The official China Daily newspaper said the announcement marked “the country’s first confirmation of a manned lunar exploration program”.
Advancing China’s space program has emerged as a priority for Beijing. In recent years, China has emerged as a major space power.
In 2003 China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, in 2013 they performed the first soft-landing on the Moon since the 1970s with its Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu (‘Jade Rabbit’) rover and the country plans to land the first probe ever on the dark side of the moon in 2018.
China is also preparing to launch a Mars probe in 2020.