In this Nov. 18, 2016, file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, ground crew check on the re-entry capsule of Shenzhou 11 spacecraft. (Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)
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China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, by around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020 .China places great emphasis on the development of its space industry, seen as a symbol of national prestige that will raise the country's standing in the world. Although the white paper doesn't mention it, China's eventual goal is to land an astronaut on the moon.Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon in 2013 -- the first time humans had soft landed anything on the moon since the 1970s.
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