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China will launch a sample return mission to the Moon in 2017, officials say, while declaring complete success for the current Chang’e 3 mission to land and deploy a lunar rover.

The next mission, Chang’e 4, will be similar to the current effort, using a backup spacecraft and rover, but will be adapted to prove technologies for the sample-return mission, Chang’e 5, says Wu Zhijian, a spokesman for the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Wu gave no schedule for Chang’e 4, but last year it was slated for 2015.

It's reasonable to assume that if the Chinese are successful in a lunar sample return mission, that a Mars sample return mission will follow. To read more, click here.