China is testing a controlled ecological life support system for long duration space missions

03 December 2012
China completed a 30-day self-sufficient space habitat testing programme at the Astronaut Center of China. The experiment, the first of its kind in China, is extremely important for the long-term development of China's manned space programme, Deng Yibing, Deputy Director of the Beijing-based Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, said to media. The cabin, a controlled ecological life support system (CELSS) built in 2011, is a model of China's third generation of astronauts' life support systems, which is expected to be used in extraterrestrial bases on the Moon or Mars. The two participants in the trial lived in a 36 square meter space-simulator for 30 days. The oxygen they breathed was produced by the plants grown within the simulator. The participants' urine was processed to irrigate the plants, so as to create a balanced ecosystem within the simulator. By implementing a comprehensive waste-water disposal system, the simulation is able to achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency of air. Experts at the Astronaut Center of China say by reducing supplies from the outside, this self-sufficient technology is essential to solving long-term manned space travel. Scientists from Germany also participated in the experiments.
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