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Mangya, China – In an uninhabited area in the Chinese province of Qinghai, two people exit a tent and head to a place that resembles a celestial body under the Sepia sky.

When he wears a long-sleeved suit, he begins to tremble. Behind them is a sign that says “Mars Camp”, and above the camp is flying a Chinese flag.

Located in the northwestern part of China, the Qinghai region is dominated by deserts and the form of the Yardang – rocky sandstone and rocky outcrops created by erosion – such as Mars.

The only indications are that it may not be the Red Planet and the traffic jams that carry so many visitors, and the photographers carefully take Martian-like images of the aliens.

Qinghai camp has attracted thousands of tourists who are looking to fulfill their dreams since it opened two years ago and is one of only half of the twelve established around the country.

“We have been fascinated by Mars and have not given up on the idea that there is a Mars camp in Qinghai,” said Zou Xin’ang, who traveled with her family for seven hours to reach the camp.

From the box office that hit Wandering Earth, a Chinese sci-fi movie, to launch a rocket, Chinese people are fascinated by the outside world.

What creates the growing interest is what the Chinese government wants.

The world’s most populous country did not launch a mobile app until 1992 – decades after the former Soviet Union and the United States – when the government enacted laws to establish space services.

A child plays the role of rocket at the China Science and Technology Museum in Beijing [File: Tingshu Wang/Reuters]
Visitors walk inside the first section of the Tianhe space station at the exhibition. The first phase of the park was rounded last month [File: Tingshu Wang/Reuters]

But even though the last day is late, progress has been rapid.

The country sent its first taikonaut – a word derived from the Chinese word taikong (meaning “space” or “cosmos”) – into space in 2003 and put its first part temporarily in orbit in 2011.

In 2019, that set up a rover on the far side of the Moon – the first country to do so. At the end of last year, it was restored the first stone samples from the Moon over 40 years old.

In a comparatively important and important way, a large part of the independent Chinese Space Station (CSS), called Tianhe (“Heavenly Union” in Chinese), was was well launched around last month. The first phase provides administrative accommodation and central management space, as well as other services over the next two years to establish the remnants of the station, CSS is expected to be operational by 2022.

Another was removed from International Space Station, which is a joint venture between the US, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Union, is why CSS is the second largest economy in the world to expand its airspace.

China sees CSS as the center of future scientific experiments, including the much-anticipated Hubble space telescope with a more than 300-dimensional shape than the Hubble telescope, according to state media.

A little farther along the galaxy, China is preparing to reach its destination Zhurong rover on Red Planet sometime this month.

If all goes well – and get there by fraud – China will be the second country, after the US, to drive a rover to Mars. The Soviet Union was about to launch the operation, but after some repairs, its lander failed to operate 110 seconds later.

Improving ‘soft’ power

Beijing’s spatial plans are listed in a white paper in 2016.

It wanted to “make China a cosmic power on all fronts”, it said, in opposition to US rule.

People gathered on the beach last month to witness the launch of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket, which carries the first phase of the Tianhe space station, the success of the space program has taken over the country’s mind. [File: China Daily via Reuters]

In his remarks at the inauguration of Tianhe, President Xi Jinping made it clear that advancing the space program is “a major step forward in ensuring the development of China in the future”.

China’s slow but steady growth in nuclear power, despite the lack of power between the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, has raised questions about rivalry with the US as relations between the two countries on the ground deteriorate. much over the years.

In the US, while Taiwan and the South China Sea are seen as a beacon, some are concerned that China could use emerging technologies to aid in the war effort.

“The United States is deeply affected by China’s military might,” Lincoln Hines of Cornell University, whose work deals with astronomy in China, told Al Jazeera. “It could be an understatement to the US in terms of controversy.”

However, the extent to which China’s aerospace program reduces power between the US and China remains open to doubt, and experts have warned not to exaggerate the potential for space in China.

China is currently seeking airstrikes with a number of countries including Germany and Russia, which have signed a memorandum of understanding a lunar eclipse in March.

Tianhe alone will be less than the current ISS, which is due to retire in 2024 unless its partners decide otherwise.

The length of the space – about 10 years according to China’s chief architect CSS Zhu Zongpeng – is also relatively small compared to the ISS, and China was also criticized for allowing the remains of the Long March 5B rocket that took part from space to fall into uncontrolled spheres.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a re-entry statement that “it is clear that China is failing meeting the appropriate standards as to their waste of air ”.

“It’s not clear what China will get out of it, other than having soft power,” Hines said. “However, by investing heavily in space operations, Beijing is also threatening to develop other areas.”

A photo of Mars is on display at a market in Beijing in July last year. China is expected to try to secure a share on Red Planet this month [File: Wu Hong/EPA]

However, the audience shown in China space may not be in the US, but close to home.

These breakthroughs have made the citizens of the country proud – from thousands to parks to those who talk about what has happened in the world.

“We’re building our own space – it’s a wonderful thing for us Chinese,” said a friend who was interested in Weibo shortly after Tianhe’s inauguration.

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