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Chinese Taikonauts To Grow Vegetables On Moon

Chinese astronauts are researching how to grow fresh vegetables in space, reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.

| December 10, 2012 | Top News

AsianScientist (Dec. 10, 2012) - Chinese astronauts are researching how to grow fresh vegetables in space, reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center in Beijing, told Xinhua that his facility had recently concluded an experiment that focused on the "dynamic balanced mechanism of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water between people and plants in a closed system."

Deng told Xinhua that a 300 cubic meter cabin was established to provide sustainable supplies of air, water, and food for two participants during the experiment.

Not only would the vegetables provide a supply of oxygen for the people living in the cabin, they could also be harvested for food, he explained.

This cabin - a controlled ecological life support system (CELSS) - was built in 2011 as a third generation astronauts' life support systems. Scientists from Germany also participated in the experiments.

The CELSS is expected to be used in extraterrestrial bases during a manned Moon or Mars landing, and may someday even involve "the breeding of animals for meat and using microbes to recycle wastes."

Space experts point out that China’s space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags behind the U.S. and Russia in the field of space technology.

But the Chinese space exploration program is showing no signs of slowing down since the recent successful manual docking of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with the Tiangong-1 space laboratory — a know how till now only shared by the U.S. and Russia.

China is planning to launch its Chang’e-3 lunar satellite in the second half of 2013, in a mission that will also see the lunar exploration orbiter’s first ever soft-landing on the moon. Chang’e-3 is expected to be retrieved in 2017 after its sampling of the moon’s soil samples.

China launched Chang’e-1 in 2007 and Chang’e-2 in 2010. The first retrieved lunar data and carried out an initial mapping of the surface, while the second created a full high-resolution map of the moon and high-definition images of the lunar landscape.

Earlier this year, it released a white paper called China’s Space Activities 2011 that detailed a manned lunar mission to the moon.

The white paper indicated that China plans to operationalize its three-man crew space station by 2020, just around the time when the 17-nation International Space Station will be deactivated.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Sint Smeding/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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