China initiated its second attempt to test its simulated space cabin- Yuegong-1- in Beijing on 10 May 2017 to strengthen its knowledge of what would be required for humans to remain on the moon for medium and long durations. The development indicates that the country is clearly planning to send its first lunar explorers for a longer stay on the space body.
Eight Chinese volunteers will be living in the space cabin for the next year. The volunteers are all civilians and elite postgraduate students from the Beihang University. They have been divided into two groups comprising two men and two women each. While first four stepped into Yuegong-1 on 10 May 2017, the remaining four would be replacing them after 60 days and after they complete 200 days the first group would return for another 105 days.
The experiment, which has been code-named “Yuegong-365,” is Beihang’s second experiment to see how the cabin’s Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS) works in a moon-like environment. The first successful trial was conducted in 2014 for the duration of 105 days. It is a Chinese research facility for developing a moon base. It is a self-contained closed facility where occupants can live for a long duration with no outside inputs other than power and energy.
It includes a vegetation area of two cabins, a living area with 3 bedrooms, dining room, bathroom and a waste disposal chamber. The space cabin was designed by Liu Hong of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA). It is a type of a Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS), the first one ever built in China and the third in the world. The facility was unveiled on the Chinese New Year on 31 January 2014 and was commissioned just before the first mission in February 2014.
It is an artificial ecosystem where animals, plants and microorganisms co-exist. It is the most advanced life support technology and can provide a habitation environment similar to the Earth’s biosphere for space missions with extended durations. The system enables the production of food internally and regeneration of oxygen through the vegetation compartment. It also enables recycling of water and the crew’s waste is in turn used as a fertilizer for the growth of vegetation.