China opened a training center on Wednesday called “lunar palace” and is trying to prepare astronauts to land on the moon sometime in the 2030s.
China is testing the ability of astronauts to stay on the moon for longer periods.
Some astronautics research students from Beihang University are starting a year-long experiment inside a simulated space cabin. It’s called “Yuegong-1”, or “Lunar Palace”. Students are testing if China’s Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS) can support future astronauts on the moon or Mars.
Volunteers will live in the sealed lab to simulate a long-term, self-contained space mission. They will have no input from the outside world.
“The BLSS is absolutely crucial to probes to the moon and to Mars,” Liu Zhiheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who helped design the lunar palace, told Xinhua. “The latest test is vital to the future of China’s moon and Mars missions and must be relied upon to guarantee the safety and health of our astronauts.”
A possible partnership between China and the European Space Agency (ESA) is happening. They are trying to build a base on the moon. China wants to join the ESA’s Moon Village” plan. They want to put a base on the moon starting in 2020 to mine minerals and provide a refueling station for future Mars missions. The ESA also hopes its moon base will attract paying space tourists.
What about the budget?
China will invest $2.17 billion into its space program between 2026 and 2030. That’s about three to four times more than the $695 million it spent from 2011 to 2016. The country’s annual space budget is comparatively less than NASA. But the U.S. space agency spends more on programs not directly related to space exploration.