Chinese scientists are discussing the possibility of building a lunar research station with robots on duty, a senior official from the China National Space Administration said recently.
The unmanned lunar surface infrastructure should have long-term energy supply, with robots carrying out scientific research and technical experiments, the official said, according to a report on thepaper.cn.
"By constructing lunar research stations, we can carry out lunar explorations that are larger in scale and richer in content," the unnamed official said at the recent 7th International Conference on Space Technology Innovation.
The official said that Chang'e 4 lunar probe, which aims to reach the far side of the moon that has never been touched by human probes, is expected to be launched in 2018.
Chang'e 5 lunar probe, which will collect samples on moon and return, might also be launched next year, which will mark the third step in the country's lunar program, the official said.
When the Chang'e 5 mission is completed, China will carry out three missions to investigate the geological structure and mineral composition at the lunar south pole region, taking back some samples, the official said.
China plans to carry out 4 deep space explorations between 2020 and 2030, namely Mars orbiting, landing and rover task, asteroid probe task, Mars sampling and returning task, and Jupiter and interplanetary crossing task.
China's first Mars probe will be launched by the Long March 5 carrier rocket in Wenchang, Hainan, in 2020.