China's manned moon trip: Chinese volunteers to live in simulated space cabin for up to 200 days
China, which aims to become a global power in space exploration, is testing space cabin for astronauts to stay on the moon for extended periods.
As part of Beijing's plan to put people on the moon in the next two decades, Chinese volunteers will live in a simulated space cabin for up to 200 days.
Eight Chinese volunteers will live in "Yuegong-1," a simulated space "cabin" in Beijing for the next year, strengthening China's knowledge and technical know-how, and helping the country's scientists understand exactly what will be required for humans to remain on the moon in the medium and long terms, Xinhua reported.
The volunteers, all civilians and elite postgraduate students from Beihang University, are divided into two groups.
For the experiment, code-named "Yuegong-365, the first four stepped into Yuegong-1 on Wednesday. The two men and two women will stay in the cabin for 60 days, then be replaced by the second group, also two men and two women, who will stay there for 200 days.
After that, the first group will return for the remaining 105 days.
The experiment is Beihang's second attempt to see how the Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS) works in a moon-like environment. A successful 105-day trial was conducted in 2014.
The BLSS is a system where animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist. Water and food can be recycled in the system, creating an earth-like environment.
While it remains unclear exactly how long China's first lunar explorers will spend on the surface, the country is already planning for longer stays.
"The BLSS is absolutely crucial to probes to the moon and to Mars," said Liu Zhiheng of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The latest test is vital to the future of China's moon and Mars missions and must be relied upon to guarantee the safety and health of our astronauts, Liu Zhiheng added.