Two volunteers work inside the Lunar Palace 1, a facility for conducting bio-regenerative life-support systems experiments key to setting up a lunar base, in Beijing University for Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA) in Beijing, capital of China, May 10, 2017. A ceremony was held in the BUAA on Wednesday as 8 volunteers start a 365-day experiment in two groups in the Lunar Palace 1. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)

Forget Mars, First Learn to Live on Moon: China to ‘Lunar Palace’ Inmates

As the US space agency NASA is making moves to live on Mars by 2030, China is keen to send its space scientists to the Moon first and built a simulator lab with the lunar environment in 2014 that has seen its recent batch of 8 students entering for a year-long experimental life.

Though China is planning to send its scientists to the moon a decade later, it is not only the nearest planet for humans but also has huge mineral wealth including tungsten deposits.

Similar to Hollywood film MARTIAN, the lab called Yuegong or ‘Lunar Palace’ measures 160-square-metre (1,720-square-foot) has a 58m2 vegetation area of two cabins, 42m2 living area with 3 bedrooms, dining room, bathroom and waste disposal chamber.

Designed by Liu Hong of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA), the lab has Bioregenerative life support system (BLSS) and it is the third of its kind built in the world. The students will live there to experience and simulate a long-term, self-contained space mission with no input from outside world, Chinese news agency Xinhua said.

Construction on the facility began in March 2013 and in 2014, the first batch experimented with growing cereals. There are facilities for bio-fermentation of human waste and also atmospheric conditions to grow crops and vegetables. it represents the “world’s most advanced closed-loop life-support technology so far”, said CCTV of China.

The first research mission in 2014 had spent 105 days and grew five cereals, including wheat, corn; soybeans, peanuts, lentils; 15 vegetables, including carrots, cucumbers, water spinach; one fruit, strawberries.

The lunar mission is almost there on every space agency’s agenda. The mineral tungsten found in abundance on the moon can revolutionize the way humans live on the Earth and almost every nation wants to mine the moon for its rich minerals, being the closest planet.

India too plans to send its Chandrayaan 2 mission next year to the Moon after the first successful Chandrayaan mission in 2008, almost after 10 years, due to the delay in developing its lander that was first promised by the Russian space agency but expressed its inability in 2015 forcing ISRO develop one on its own.

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