Four students from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics were closed inside two chamber bunker close to Beijing for following 200 days on Sunday, July 9.
The students are contributing to the Lunar Palace 365 Project, which is exploring how humans could create a self-sustaining ecosystem to provide the necessities for human survival beyond Earth.
The four volunteers are two men and two women studying at Beihang, which was formerly called Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
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They'll have to generate oxygen from plants, a crucial step, seeing as how they won't be able to survive without oxygen when they're really up there. The goal is to live self-sufficiently for an entire 200 days, which means they're not slated to get out until the end of January.
They have conducted this experiment before with animals, and a similar human test of bioregenerative life support technology took place in May 2014, but only for 105 days and with fewer people involved.
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Yuegong-1 was built out of two bunkers that were converted into quarters replicating living in a space habitat, without the zero gravity feature. Liu Hong, the principal architect of the experiment and a professor at Beihang, noted all the requirements for human survival were taken into account when they designed Yuegong-365.
"We've designed it so the oxygen (produced by plants at the station) is exactly enough to satisfy the humans, the animals, and the organisms that break down the waste materials", she said.
It will also be monitored how long the students can go without sunlight and that's going to have a direct impact on their mental and physical health.
"They can become a bit depressed", Liu Hong said of the students.
President Xi Jinping wants China to become a global power in space exploration, with plans to send the first probe to the dark side of the moon by 2018 and to put astronauts on the moon by 2036. The psychological impact of confinement is also a significant issue. In 2013, China became the third country, after the United States and Russian Federation, to put a spacecraft on the moon, and the government aims to land a probe on the dark side of the moon by next year.
Plescia added that he has no doubt that China will land humans on the moon and that it will happen before the USA ever returns to the Earth's natural satellite.