back to article China plans astro-farms on Mars

A leading light of China’s rapidly accelerating space program has hinted that the country’s taikonauts could in time be able to grow their own food and generate oxygen from plants in bases on the Moon or Mars. Deng Yibing, deputy director of the Beijing-based Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, told state-run …


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  1. LarsG

    China want to send men to Mars in an Eco bubble, the US want to send another probe like curiosity.

    How things have changed.

    1. Gordon 10

      Dont worry

      China will soon come to its senses and start pissing its money up the wall trying to turn its ephemeral economic dominance into fleeting worldwide political dominance.

      Headlines 2050:

      Chinese war in South America/ Bumfuckistan enters its 3rd decade.

      China plans rover for Titan.

      Funding for CSS (Chinese Space Station) cut.

      Federated United States in breakup talks.

      British Government to fund Microsat powered by hot air and wishful thinking.

      Heres hoping not.....

  2. Martin 47

    Its nice to see someone picking up the banner the USA dropped. I remember watching the moon landings in open mouthed amazement as a kid, nice to think my grandkids will be able to do the same.

    Been a long while coming though

    1. Beachrider

      You guys keep minimizing NASA's accomplishments...

      Surely, the Space Shuttle hijacked the USA manned-plans for 30 years. That is over now. Robotic exploration of the Solar System by NASA has been VERY impressive, though. NASA tried the trendy cheap-probe approaches with MER, Juno, LRO, GRAIL, etc. They have tried the cooperative launch route with Chandrayaan, Dragon, etc. They also have done the superprobes with Galileo, Cassini and Curiousity. NASA is still the foremost voice on what happens with the ISS.

      NASA has done more to bring space science into the human experience than everybody else COMBINED.

      Perhaps you could prevail upon the ESA to step up its woefully underachieving record.

  3. Christian Berger

    This is probably how they are going to take over the world

    A space program gives people something really important. It gives them hope, a goal to strive for. As an engineer you are no longer the one who has to make deliberately bad products to suit some brain-damaged business model, but you are the one who is actually pushing forward the boundaries of science of technology.

    After the US moon-landing, a whole new generation of engineers grew up. They found things like computers "cool" even though they had no real use for it. They built home-brew computers even before micro-processors became available. This eventually lead to the computer industry we have now, where computers are so cheap, everyone can afford one.

    In the west, this generation of engineers is slowly dying out, which can be seen in the current stagnation of engineering. Why bother making a proper mobile phone, when your boss insists on it being useless by forcing bad user interfaces and DRM onto it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is probably how they are going to take over the world

      It also gives them somewhere to sit while the nukes get flung about on earth.

      1. Crisp

        Re: It also gives them somewhere to sit while the nukes get flung about on earth.

        I can't imagine a better ring side seat for it.

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: It also gives them somewhere to sit while the nukes get flung about on earth.

          "I can't imagine a better ring side seat for it."

          The moon would be closer than Mars, not to mention the orbit lends a better all-round view of Earth's demise. I'll bring the deckchairs and popcorn.

          1. Crisp

            Re: It also gives them somewhere to sit while the nukes get flung about on earth.

            Don't forget the beer!

  4. Pamplemoose
    Thumb Up

    Awesome news

    I only hope that this brings the US population out of it's apathy for all things space related.

    Although thinking about it, perhaps China, with it's blatant disregard for health and safety and human rights, is actually what we need to push space exploration right now. No mission will be too dangerous.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Awesome news

      The disregard for HSE issues may well be what is required. Bottom line is space exploration is well, lets face it, dangerous ......

  5. Steve Williams

    Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

    Will there be cute service droids to look after the plants after the space station is abandoned?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

      Just remember: <spoiler alert>

      Plants need sunshine...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

        Plants need sunshine? really? try telling that to all the weed i grew under high pressure sodium lamps.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

          Oh boy! A Martian weed strain would be awesome!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

      Poor Dewey. *sniff* Now you've set me off again...

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Reminds me of 'Silent Running'.

        I always wondered how long the nuclear powered lamps would last - especially as there was no longer anyone to check on them.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not. Gonna. Happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Never is a very long time. That said, there is no mention of the resources required to create this farm. I'm presuming they would need to take fertile soil, water, food and air for the initial growing period just to get started as well as the resources to construct this astro-farm before the growing can get under way.

      Of course, rather than seeing this as "Not. Gonna. Happen." - which with that attitude it won't, they should be seen as obstacles to overcome.

      Expecting things like this to happen in our lifetime's just isn't realistic. Space is a huge challenge and it will likely require hundreds of generations passing and improving the baton before we get anywhere near true space travel. But that all started 50 years ago. That is one of the things that makes us Humans great.

  7. MartinC

    Now we know how Amy Wong's parents got started...

    1. John70
      Thumb Up

      Thumbs Up

      for Futurama reference...

  8. 0laf

    I can see the panicked headlines in 10yr now, "Chinese invade moon!".

    Might stimulate some momentum in the US for their own space strategy

  9. The Alpha Klutz

    When I get to Mars

    I want a BIG house, no Earth scale shit for me next time around thanks!

    It's a chance for a fresh start to really treat everyone else like shit. I hope I'm allowed guns on Mars. Get off my lawn!

    1. Crisp

      Surely you mean:


      1. Ted Treen

        Re: Surely you mean:

        Upvoted 'cos you got it right (according to my Mac's translator widget).

        Crever crogs!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surely you mean:

          "Upvoted 'cos you got it right (according to my Mac's translator widget)."

          Or Crisp used a translator to convert it from English and it was translated wrong in the first place and then back again.

        2. Chris007

          Re: Surely you mean:

          it doesn't do well going from Chinese to Arabic and then back to English though!

  10. Magister
    Thumb Up

    Aim for the stars..

    ... you might hit the ceiling.

    Sometimes we need these really big projects; partly to test out what is possible but also to stimulate fresh ideas and new ways of thinking about problems.

    They get a thumbs up from me

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aim for the stars..

      "They get a thumbs up from me"

      Agreed, always aim higher than you think you can achieve because you'll likely always fall short of your targets. By aiming higher, you get to where you wanted to be in the first place.

  11. Silverburn

    Obligatory tree-hugger post

    Researches sustainable ecosystem to provide air, water and food

    They should maybe start at home first...?

    1. Ru

      Re: Obligatory tree-hugger post

      Already got one, thanks. Its the non-renewable resources that seem to be causing most of the hassle.

  12. Monkey Bob

    Science schmience

    I want some Chinese Space Chillies!

  13. lukewarmdog

    Population Expansion

    Wonder if they'll move from the one child policy to an enforced ten child policy to allow them to colonise everywhere first.

  14. Beavercheese

    Raunch Mars Lover !

    Stereotypes aside - I for one hope that they are successful.

    The Americans/Russians were only able to really achieve what they did at that time through mostly purloined tech courtesy of nabbed knowledge and personnel at the end of WWII courtesy of research done through not overly ethical but sometimes brilliant invention.

    (*Disclaimer - No this isn’t a political comment on the Holocaust/Nazis etc etc)

    The palpable fear during the Cold War period drove both competing countries/states/nations to new heights of achievement and the perceived gains in technology, human endeavour, national pride or tactical advantage were the main driving points.

    Roll on 50 years.

    America has turned into a giant CEO. Its main concerns are making money and telling everyone else what to do. No national feats or achievements.

    Invention through necessity has been replaced by invention as the reason to accumulate wealth and keep hold of it.

    It dropped the ball on Space exploration and pulled too much funding as it wasn’t deemed “profitable”.

    Health and Safety became an industry and solid door. Bureaucracy and middle/side/top heavy/over management is the norm.

    Space exploration is now in the hands of private individuals.

    Russia has finally turned into what America was 20 years ago, but is catching up very quickly.

    China, through its own dubious nature has (mainly) always put the nation first.

    It has the manpower and is more bothered about getting it done (sometimes regardless) than getting it patented and sold.

    Space exploration is still in the hands of the state

    Health or safety is something that is only perhaps guaranteed if you do the work or do it well.

    (**Disclaimer - No this isn’t a political comment on the Communist Regime etc etc)

    Therefore I believe that it literally and figuratively, Mars will be the “Little Red Planet” unless you decadent Western peeps start looking outwards more.

    Let a hundred flowers bloom in Mars habitation modules from the progression of science…

  15. System 10 from Navarone

    Salford Council's beaten them to it

    If you're looking for food growing ideas from another planet, look no further than here:

  16. Esskay

    "China plans astro-farms on mars"

    Makes sense to me - once people start building homes on Mars they'll obviously need astro-turf for their yards.

  17. ukgnome

    Can they please set up a moon dairy, as I have a real hankering for lunar cheese.

    1. Colin 29

      Why? The moon's already made of cheese

      1. Lord Raa

        Lunar Cheese

        Sustainability, if we mine all the cheese from the moon, we'll all look like fools.

        Of course, trying to mine lunar cheese would make us look pretty silly, too.

  18. TomTomAgain

    Just a comment on the comments.

    When a story like this appears featuring a Western country ( i.e. US to send people/rocket to moon/mars )

    Half the comments are usually whining on about how they should be spending the money reducing world hunger and complaining that the whole venture is nothing but a waste of money.

    When the Chinese do it - its all "congratulations and good luck"

    1. Ben Holmes

      Welcome to El Reg.

    2. Martin 47

      Really? Care to point out any comments offering congratulations and or wishing them good luck?

      1. hplasm
        Thumb Up

        Hi, Chinese Space Agency

        Congratulations and Good Luck!

        1. Martin 47

          Re: Hi, Chinese Space Agency

          Nobody likes a smartarse.

          Although I have upvoted you for being a quick smartarse

  19. Charlie van Becelaere

    This is the dawning

    of a balanced aquarium!

    Apologies to the 5th Dimension and all those Hair-y types.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, yeah, give the Chinese kudos for breeding plants in orbit....

    Right up until some Taikonaut cuts his finger on a gardening implement and the mutant plant develops a taste for blood!!!

    What's the Mandarin word for triffid??

    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Re: Mandarin for triffid

      That one piqued my interest.

      Google Translate didn't produce anything for "triffid" when I tried (I assume its inability to do so is why you're asking!).

      So I asked a Chinese colleague (who also happens to be a sci-fi buff) and she gave me 三個根 for triffid. Plugging that into Google Translate produces "three root" so I suppose that's as close as you're going to get!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy to talk about, harder to do

    The US talked about manned missions to Mars, but wised up once the costs started getting tallied. We should figure out a faster and more efficient means of getting there (like working ion engines) before we try anything other than Musk's vision of a one way trip (which may be acceptable for China, but the US's post-Challenger reluctance to admit space travel is dangerous precludes this)

  22. mhenriday

    The Chinese seem to have opted for a conservative strategy

    of small, small steps - a strategy which at least hitherto seems to be serving them well. And while cultural generalisations äre admittedly suspect, perhaps the Chinese, with their five millennia of continuous civilisation, are more disposed than most to take the long view, even when it comes to projects to put a colony on Mars. Note also that has far as we know and perhaps contrary to the expetations of those who love to hate the country - «with it's [sic !] blatant disregard for health and safety and human rights» , they haven't yet lost a space man or woman. Leaving aside moral aspects, a simple consideration of the training costs involved would militate against risk-taking with the lives of these individuals. Riding a rocket is never risk free, but it strikes me as extremely unlikely that the leadership of the Chinese space programme would exert less care to keep their people safe and sound than their counterparts in Russia or the US....


  23. cs94njw

    I don't know about anyone else, but I prefer my food genetically modified, not galacticly mutated :(

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