China will continue to explore the moon's polar regions and is mulling over a manned lunar landing in the coming five years, according to a white paper released on Friday.
The white paper, titled "China's Space Program: A 2021 Perspective," said China will continue its studies and research "on the plan for a human lunar landing."
A new-generation manned spacecraft will be developed to support its exploration of the cislunar space, according to the paper.
It is part of the country's ambitious lunar exploration plan after its lunar probes landed on the far side of the moon in 2019 and brought back lunar samples last year, respectively.
In the next five years, China is planning to bring two more probes onto the moon to explore its polar regions, a place believed to contain water ice, especially in the deep, permanent shadows of some mountains and craters.
China will launch the Chang'e-6 lunar probe to collect and bring back samples from the moon's polar regions and launch the Chang'e-7 to perform a precise landing there and "a hopping detection" in lunar shadowed area, the paper said.
Also, the country will complete R&D on the key technology of Chang'e-8 and push forward the building of an international research station on the moon with global collaboration, according to the paper.
The program is a counterpart to NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans that try to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024, and establishes a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028.
In the next five years, China will launch asteroid probes to sample near-Earth asteroids and probe main-belt comets.
The paper also revealed the country's technological preparations for Mars sampling and return, exploration of Jupiter system and boundary exploration of the solar system.
Back to near-Earth orbits, China plans to launch, in the next five years, two experimental modules and a space telescope, complete its space station, build a space lab onboard, and carry out large-scale scientific experiments with astronauts on long-term assignments.