China plans to launch a lander and rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet in detail. China’s burgeoning space program achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a probe on the mysterious far side of the moon. It has developed rapidly, especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003 and has sought cooperation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.
The US, however, has banned most space cooperation with China out of national security concerns, keeping China from participating in the International Space Station.
Despite that, China’s ambitions continue to grow as it seeks to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space and cement its position as a regional and global power. It is gradually constructing its own larger, more permanent space station in which it has invited foreign participation.