After one year of living in the “Yuegong-1” or “Lunar Palace” in Beijing, four volunteers stepped out of the simulated space cabin with cabin-grown vegetables in their hands. The success of this research project, “Yuegong-365,” set a new world record for the longest stay in a self-contained laboratory.
Beginning on May 10, 2017, the 365-day project lasted five days longer than planned. The delay, which was intentional, was meant to test the volunteers’ psychological states in unexpected situations.
Located in Beijing’s Beihang University, Yuegong-1 has a total area of only 150 square meters, and consists of two plant cabins and the comprehensive cabin. The volunteers successfully grew fruit and vegetables such as strawberries, soybeans and carrots in the laboratory.
The experiment was designed to test a bioregenerative life support system (BLSS), by sealing animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist in an environment designed to simulate a lunar base. It also examines the physical and mental conditions of humans in this kind of environment. Oxygen, water and food are recycled within the BLSS, creating an Earth-like environment.
According to Professor Liu Hong, the chief designer of Yuegong-1, the purpose of the project was to test the stability of the BLSS when “astronauts” take turns living in the cabin. “We built some mistakes into the system on purpose to test the sustainability of our lab.”
“Eighty percent of the food could circulate inside,” Professor Liu said in the monitoring room near the cabin. “So in the future, if we want to live on the moon, Mars or anywhere that’s not the Earth, the technology can increase our chances to survive.”
China plans to send astronauts to the moon before 2036. This research provides the scientific support needed for such a mission.
Source: CGTN, Xinhua