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China's Mars ambitions one step closer

Huailai, China (CNN)China has completed its first public test of a Mars lander, keeping the country on track for an unmanned exploration mission to the red planet in 2020. The trial took place Thursday in the mountainous landscape of Hebei province, about an hour and a half drive north of Beijing. Chinese officials said the landscape mirrored the slopes and craters of the planet Mars. The lander was suspended 70 meters (230 feet) above the ground on 36 huge steel cables, which rose up to 140 meters (460 feet) into the air. The test started with a loud boom and the spacecraft hovered and then descended, coming to a stop a few feet short of the ground. How to safely land on Mars is one of the biggest challenges facing the Mars mission, which ...