Samuel McNeil, Associated Press
Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:42 pm EST
HUAILA, China – China showed its spacecraft on Mars during a landing test on Thursday as the country strives to become involved in more global space projects.
Hover demonstration, obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities were conducted outside a Beijing simulation of the red planet, where gravitational pull is about one-third that of Earth.
China plans to launch a lander and hover on Mars next year to explore parts of the planet, one of the four scheduled missions. The United States and Europe are also sending rovers to Mars next year, and the United Arab Emirates plans to launch an arbitrator.
China's space program has reached a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a spacecraft on the mysterious end of the moon.
It is developing rapidly, especially since it implemented its first reinforced mission in 2003 and requires co-operation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.
The Americans, however, have banned the largest space collaboration with China beyond national security concerns, preventing China from participating in the International Space Station.
Nevertheless, China's ambitions continue to grow as it seeks to bring the United States, Russia and Europe into space and cement its position as a regional and global power. It is gradually building its own larger, more durable space station to invite participation abroad.
The earthquake on Thursday successfully evaded terrestrial obstacles during simulated low-gravity landing, according to the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the main contractor for the Chinese space program.
The refrigerator-sized craft was lowered gently to 36 cables in the air for about a minute and used jet-spraying aircraft to change its downward course.
"After launching the probe, it will take about seven months to reach Mars, and the final landing procedure will only take about seven minutes, which is the most difficult and risky part of the entire mission," says Mars' chief designer, angang. Rongqiao, standing in front of the test facility at 140 meters (460 meters).
Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched by the United States, Russia and other countries have been lost or destroyed over the years. Only the United States withdrew it and made eight successful landings.
The remote test site lies one hour north of the Great Wallide of Beijing.
Guests at Thursday's event came from 19 countries and included ambassadors from Brazil, France and Italy.
"This event is the first public appearance of the Chinese Mars Exploration Mission, also an important measure for China to be able to pragmatically conduct space-based international trade and cooperation," the National Space Administration said in a statement.