Skip to main content

Chinese students spent a record 200 days sealed in a simulated moon lab

China is pretty darn serious about putting people on the moon, and it has the training program to prove it. To help prepare people for the arduous task of lunar travel, Chinese students on the campus of Beihang University in Beijing recently underwent 200 continuous days in a “lunar lab” to simulate what it might be like. The four volunteers spent six-and-a-half months living in the 1,720-square-foot “Yuegong-1” cabin.

Prior to the four volunteers entering the facility for 200 days, it was occupied by two men and two women who stayed for 60 days. Now that the four who stayed for 200 days have departed, the original four will return for an additional 105 days. The first experiment in the module took place in 2014, when an initial 105-day trial was carried out. This latest test is the longest that anyone has stayed in the simulated lunar environment.

Speaking with official Chinese news agency Xinhua, the module’s chief designer Liu Hong said that the 200-day extended stay is intended to challenge both the stability of the lunar lab and the “psychological status of the volunteers.” At one point during the foursome’s 200-day stay, the lab experienced unintended blackouts.

Beihang University volunteers staying in Yuegong-1, also known as Lunar Palace 1
Getty Images/Xinhua News Agency
Getty Images/Xinhua News Agency

The facility features four sleeping cubicles, a common room, room for raising animals, and a waste-treatment room. This treatment room includes a special bio-fermentation system for breaking down and recycling human waste. These waste byproducts can then be used by the inhabitants to grow experimental crops and vegetables.

China has long been outspoken about its lunar ambitions. While it does not expect to land astronauts on the moon for at least the next decade, it has nonetheless invested billions of dollars in its military-run space program. At present, the plan is reportedly for China to have a crewed outpost on the moon by 2022. This “lunar lab” project is one part of those preparations, by helping give potential lunar explorers both the physical and mental tools they will need for longer stays on the moon’s surface.

In the past, sources have suggested that China plans to land a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon in the next few years — something that would be a first for any country.

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
A Mars simulation crew spent 520 days in confinement. Here are their tips
The crew of the Mars500 simulation mission

If you're struggling in quarantine right now, you might look for advice from someone how has survived a truly extreme confinement situation, such as an astronaut who was part of the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Mars500 simulation study.

Simulation missions are psychological experiments to learn about how humans fare in the space environment, without actually sending anyone to space. Especially for missions to Mars, which will require long travel times, a crew will have to work together in difficult circumstances for over a year, with little chance to get away from each other or from their tasks.

Read more
See a photo of the strange gel-like substance found on the far side of the moon
china images far side moon change4 1

Earlier this year, China's space program generated considerable intrigue and lots of jokes about the 1958 movie The Blob when it announced it had discovered an oddly-colored “gel-like” substance of unknown origin on the far side of the moon. As part of its Chang'e 4 lander mission, a small rover called Yutu-2 has been exploring the lunar surface and stumbled across the odd material. Now, the China Lunar Exploration Program has released a photo of its strange find which shows more details about what the substance could be.

As reported by, the original image, captured from the edge of a small crater on the far side of the moon, was shared by Our Space, a Chinese space site:

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more