Chinese students generated enough oxygen, water and food in a self-contained habitat to last a full year without help from the outside world.
Two groups lived in the sealed environment Yuegong-1, or Lunar Palace 1, for a total of 370 days, but one group was able to survive without the need of outside materials – and they could have stayed longer, a new report reveals.
Oxygen came from plants and vegetables grown under LED lights, and almost everything else they needed for survival came from recycling.
Just two percent of materials — including seeds, toilet paper and cleaning products— came courtesy of the outside.
The goal of the Lunar Palace program is to help China develop a self-sustained outpost on the moon, a goal leaders say will begin this decade.
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The student volunteers who lived in China’s Yuegong-1, or Lunar Palace 1, generated all their own food, water and oxygen for a total of 370 days, according to a new report.
After a 105-day trial in 2014, China launched the year-long ‘Yuegong 365’ project on May 10, 2017.
Initially four student volunteers, two male and two female, stayed in Yuegong-1 for 60 days.
Located on the Beijing campus of Beihang University, the biosphere is designed to provide anything a human would need to survive in space.
In July, the first residents were relieved by another two pairs, who stayed 200 days.
Oxygen came from plants grown under LED lights in a pair of modules. In addition, mealworms were raised to create a protein-rich ‘bread’ that researchers ate while in Yuegong-1. The goal of the Lunar Palace program is to help China eventually develop self-sustaining outposts on the moon
The second group emerged January 26, 2018, when the first group returned for another 105 days.
With a total of 370 days of sustained habitation, Yuegong-365 set a new world record for the longest stay in a self-contained laboratory, according to Chinese media.
In addition to two plant-cultivation modules filled with shelves of plants growing under LED lights, the ‘Lunar Palace’ has a smaller 452-square-foot living cabin with four sleeping cubicles, a common room, a bathroom, a waste-treatment room, and space.
A variety of crops were grown in the plant-cultivation modules, including wheat, lettuce, soybeans, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries
The system was designed so that plants grown inside the station — which included wheat, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries — would generate enough oxygen to provide for the humans, the animals, and the organisms that broke down waste materials.