China announced on Tuesday that it plans to land a probe on the far side of the moon by 2018. The plan is part of the country’s plan to catch up to European and American space agencies.

“To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly,” stated the white paper containing the goal, which was released by the information office of China’s Cabinet. The paper also listed out China’s ambitions in space for the next five years, which also include launching a probe to Mars in 2020.

According to the white paper, China hopes to use space for peaceful purposes. The country also aims to perform innovative scientific research.

This lunar mission would help us understand the formation and evolution of the moon. Their Martian probe would also study the Red Planet and bring back home some samples.

Chinese scientists also hope they could study the Jupiter system as well as conduct studies that will shed light into the origin and evolution of the solar system and other major scientific mysteries. They also hope they could seek alien life.

According to He Qisong, a space security expert at Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, landing on the far side of the moon indicates that China is well equipped to land at a specific part of the moon. He also pointed out, “China never talks big and says something it’s unable to achieve,” he said.

In October, China has also sent two of its astronauts in space. The scientists, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, would conduct experiments that include testing the computer, propulsion and life support systems of China’s Tiangong-2 space lab.

The tests are crucial to prepare the Chinese lab for its core module. This will be launched in 2018.