One of the major problems currently being faced by space agencies that are planning to build permanent extraterrestrial settlements on the Moon and Mars is the lack of technology that could sustain astronauts with food and oxygen. Currently, the cost of space launch is approaching $10,000 per pound, and a self-sustaining system could eventually prove to be affordable and durable for both short term and long term missions. As an answer to the problem, China’s Astronaut Research and Training Center has just announced the development of a system that can grow vegetables and fruits in a closed system.
China has already announced plans to land an unmanned craft on the Moon, with a manned landing to follow. To make the manned landing viable, the closed system would be able to sustain the astronauts, by delivering oxygen and food on extraterrestrial locations. The experiment, in collaboration with German scientists, took place in the CELSS, a 10,000sqf cabin built in 2011 that is expected to be used in future extraterrestrial bases on the Moon and Mars.
The experiment saw two astronauts living inside the cabin while successfully managing to grow four different kinds of vegetables. The plants provided a steady source of food and oxygen, while the occupants sustained the plants with carbon dioxide.