Beijing, April 22 (IANS) China is aiming to launch its first mission to Mars around 2020, the director of the National Space Administration said on Friday.

"The probe is expected to orbit the red planet, land and deploy a rover all in one mission, which is quite difficult to achieve," said Xu Dazhe at a press conference, Xinhua news agency reported.

Xu revealed that the mission was approved by central authorities in January.

Stressing on the mission's importance and difficulty, he said although China has sent spacecraft deep into space, "only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has embarked on the exploration of deep space in the true sense".