China is looking to rival NASA’s space exploration projects by establishing an outpost on the Moon. The country’s space agency also aims to send a human mission to Mars and investigate signs of alien life on the Red Planet.

In the past couple of months, NASA has been unveiling details of Artemis, which is its latest spaceflight program. According to the agency, the first mission in Artemis is to send astronauts to the Moon.

For NASA, the upcoming lunar mission will set the groundwork for the first human expedition to Mars. But aside from NASA, it seems China is also targeting to send its own personnel to Moon and Mars. This was confirmed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, which is the country’s top space contractor.

According to the company, China’s new space programs are focused on sending astronauts to the Moon in order to establish lunar outposts for scientific experiments. Eventually, the country will expand its space exploration program to Mars.

"The next steps in [China's] manned space programs will be manned exploration of the Moon," the company said, noted China Daily.

“[We will] set up bases on the Moon to conduct scientific operations, expand a habitable place for mankind and gain experience and expertise for deep-space expeditions beyond the Moon,” the company added. “The long-term goal is to send humans to Mars."

Although the company did not go into detail regarding the objectives of China’s Mars mission, Chinese scientists believe that it would provide a perfect opportunity to look for traces of alien life on the planet.

"Sending astronauts there will give man better opportunities to look for traces of life on Mars,” space technology researcher Pang Zhihao told China Daily. “This is important because in our Solar System, Mars resembles Earth the most, so research into the possibility of the existence of life there will enable us to better understand the origin and evolution of life on our mother planet.”

China has already started its new batch of Moon missions with the launch of the Chang’e-4 lunar rover. Although it is not yet clear when the country will go to Mars, local experts estimated that human missions to the Red Planet could take place before 2050.