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Successful Test Takes China Closer to 2020 Mars Mission

  • Space race heating up as China, U.S. look at Mars and beyond
  • Country plans to launch Mars probe in 2020, arrive early 2021
A test facility simulating the landing procedure on Mars.
A test facility simulating the landing procedure on Mars.

Photographer: Wan Ke/China National Space Administration

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China on Thursday successfully completed an obstacle-avoidance test for its upcoming Mars mission, moving the country a step closer to its goal of becoming one of the world’s top powers in space exploration.

During the test at a site near Beijing, a probe designed to land on Mars separated from the main body of a space craft at an altitude of 70 meters (230 feet) and slowly descended, finishing 15 meters from the ground. Researchers, who didn’t attempt to land the probe, told media at the event that the test was successful, without providing details or taking questions.