Model shows Lunar Palace 1- a ground-based artificial closed ecological facility. Credit: CMSE

Model shows Lunar Palace 1- a ground-based artificial closed ecological facility.
Credit: CMSE

China has made use of its Lunar Palace 1- a ground-based artificial closed ecological facility.

Last month, three volunteers stepped out of the research facility, concluding a 105-day test – the first long-duration multi-crew sealed cabin research carried out in China.

“Lunar Palace 1” refers to the Integrative Experimental Facility for Permanent Astrobase Life-support Artificial Closed Ecosystem (PALACE) Research.

Lunar Palace 1 is a 500-cubic-meter capsule, which covers an area of 160 square meters and consists of one integrated module and two plant cultivation modules. The integrated module is divided into the living room, the work room, bathroom, waste disposal room, etc.

According to Liu Hong, chief designer of the system, by applying a combination of biological technology and engineering control technology, it establishes an artificial enclosed ecological system where life basics — such as oxygen, water and food can regenerate — thus providing Earth-like ecological environment for habitants.

Inside look at one area of China's Lunar Palace 1. Credit: CMSE

Inside look at one area of China’s Lunar Palace 1.
Credit: CMSE

Long-duration human spaceflight

During the experiment, four kinds of edible vegetables, namely lettuce, leaf lettuce, gynura bicolor and sonchus oleraceus, were planted in a 36-square-meter area to absorb the carbon dioxide exhaled by two astronauts and provide them with oxygen and 30-50 grams of fresh vegetables per meal per person.

According to the China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) office: “The success of the experiment has laid good foundation to CELSS [the controlled ecological life support system] flight demonstration tests for China’s space station, which will be helpful for China’s astronauts to get fresh vegetables, improve their living conditions and relieve their mental stress.”

According to the CMSE, the core of Lunar Palace 1 is the world’s most advanced closed-loop life support technology so far: Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS), which is essential for astronauts to live and work in space for long duration, making it possible for long-duration human spaceflight and deep space exploration.

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