China has finally announced that it plans to visit Mars by 2020, along with being one of the first nations to walk on the "far side" of the moon.
In an unusual video discussion with the BBC, Wu Weiren, a high-ranking official in the China National Space Administration (CNSA) who worked as chief of China's moon and Mars missions, publicized that China is presently working on a certain Mars probe exploration mission.
“We will orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover — all in one mission. We could have started our Mars mission earlier but finally the country has given its approval."
What’s even more interesting is that, China also aims to effectively colonize the moon by establishing a manned base.
"Our short-term goal is to orbit the moon, land on the moon and take samples back from the moon. Our long-term goal is to explore, land, and settle. We want a manned lunar landing to stay for longer periods and establish a research base. It's quite challenging to land there, but according to research there might be water or ice because of the lack of sunlight, so we'd very much like to check that out."
Seems like the movie “The Martian” has made quite an impression on China. Contrary to what you are thinking, Wu also said that China is very much hopeful to cooperate with space agencies from other countries such as NASA in the US – much like in film The Martian, where China's space agency presents its Taiyang Shen space rocket booster to direct rescue supplies to NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who is trapped on Mars with decreasing resources.
In this whole situation China is not the bad guy neither is the US but US Congress has already passed a spending bill in 2011 particularly restricting NASA from working in China, due to a high risk of spying.
"We would like to co-operate with the US, especially for space and moon exploration. We have urged the US many times to get rid of restrictions so scientists from both countries can work together on future exploration."
According to Reuters, a senior Chinese space official Xu Dazhe, the chief of the China National Space Administration, said at a press conference on 22 April that The Martian film displays that the US would not be adverse to working with China.
"When I saw the US film The Martian, which envisages China-US cooperation on a Mars rescue mission under emergency circumstances, it shows that our U.S. counterparts very much hope to co-operate with us. However, it's very regrettable that, for reasons everyone is aware of, there are currently some impediments to cooperation. I believe that on this matter, China is more and more open, and I hope our American friends can take note."
As some people might think, this is not a race because overall, this all is going to be a huge step in human history regardless of who goes first.