Chinese co. simulates Space Tourism in Gobi Desert

Published on : Friday, May 3, 2019

In a simulated scenario, mealworms wriggle on a shelf in the botanical module of Mars Base 1, ostensibly a Martian habitat on the edge of the Gobi desert in western China.


Guo Jiayu, a tourist guide, tells a group of wide-eyed schoolchildren that, mashed up, such larvae could be part of the diet of astronauts should they reach the red planet. Elsewhere in the complex (pictured), neon-lit corridors lead to sleeping compartments and a control centre. Through an airlock lined with spacesuits awaits a rover, ready for exploring the rocky expanse outside.


The small installation is near Jinchang, a nickel-mining city in the western province of Gansu. It was built last year at a cost of around 50m yuan ($7.5m) by Bai Fan, a garrulous British-educated entrepreneur with the backing of private investors. For now, Mr Bai is mainly using the base to teach students about travel to Mars. Eventually, Bai hopes the facility will become the centrepiece of a resort. His company has secured the right to develop 67 square kilometres of the surrounding desert—an area bigger than Manhattan.


The base has already hosted a reality television show, in which six celebrities pretended to be astronauts facing life-threatening challenges.


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