China is hoping to achieve a "major breakthrough" in its space program by 2040 — including the development of nuclear-powered space shuttles that will allow for the mining of asteroids and "large-scale space exploration" — state-run media have reported.

The ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in space technology by 2045 was detailed in a report issued by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a major contractor for the country's space programs, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Developing nuclear-powered space shuttles will "support large-scale exploration and development of space resources, and make mining on asteroids and space solar power plants possible," Xinhua quoted the report as saying, without adding further details.