BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese volunteers on Tuesday ended an experiment that saw them live for 105 days in an enclosed capsule, eating only laboratory-grown plants and insects.
This was China's first manned test of the "Moon Palace 1," a 500-cubic meter module that is China's first and the world's third bioregenerative life support base.
The closed lab set on the campus of Beihang University is a virtual biosphere, where people can provide food for themselves by cultivating grain, vegetable, fruit and insects. The system can also produce water and fertilizers, process waste and revitalize air.
Liu Hong, chief designer of the system, which features a cabin and two plant cultivation labs, said it is a miniature version of the Earth's biosphere. It can help make it possible for astronauts to live safely in space stations without any deliveries of supplies for long periods.
Liu said the research team selected five grains, 15 varieties of vegetable, one kind of fruit as well as a yellow mealworm, which provided protein for the volunteers during the experiment.
It is hoped that the life support system can further facilitate China's manned space mission.
Last June, three Chinese astronauts spent 12 days in Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace 1) in the country's longest manned space mission.
China's manned space mission has entered its second decade with ambitious plans of building a permanent space station and manned lunar probe.