Gardens in space could sustain astronauts

Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:17 PM

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Experiments suggest Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extraterrestrial bases in the future, an official says.

A lab experiment in Beijing focused on a dynamic balanced mechanism of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water between people and plants in a closed system, Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, said.

In a compartment with a volume of 10,500 cubic feet, four kinds of vegetables were grown, taking in carbon dioxide and providing both oxygen and food for the two people living in the compartments, China's officials Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

The first of its kind in China, the experiment's results are significant for the long-term development of China's manned space program, Deng said.

The experimental compartment, dubbed a controlled ecological life support system, is a model of China's third generation of astronauts' life support systems expected to be used in extraterrestrial bases on the Moon or Mars, officials said.

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