China on Thursday completed a test of its Mars exploration lander ahead of Beijing’s first mission to the red planet slated for 2020.
Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022.
Thursday’s hovering and obstacle-avoidance test, which took place in northern Hebei province, was conducted in a facility that simulated conditions on Mars.
A red platform with steel cables attached mimicked the planet’s gravity — about a third that of Earth — as the lander descended from a tall, metal structure.
The test is “an important part” of China’s plans to land on Mars, said Zhang Kejian, director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
“Currently, all development work is going smoothly,” he said in a statement.
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