For a handful of students in Jinchang, China, the cosmos are closer than you'd expect.
Located in the windswept desolation of the Gobi Desert, the C-Space Project Mars simulation base is one of the first of its kind — a compound designed to accurately replicate the conditions of a crewed mission to Mars. And in one of China's most impoverished regions, the facility may also break new ground as a lucrative tourism industry sets its eyes on the stars.
It's here that regional students can experience firsthand the future of space travel. The compound is complete with mock decompression chambers, space suits, living modules, greenhouses, and even a replica of the black monolith featured in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In an interview with Reuters, Bai Fan, CEO of the Jinchang Star Universe Culture & Tourism Investment Co., the media company that codeveloped the base, said, “A nation needs people who look up at the stars [...] we hope the bases will let them feel the spirit of space exploration, and not just experience the technology behind it.”
Students are not only ones who will benefit from the C-Space Project Mars simulation base — according to Reuters, the Astronauts Center of China will eventually use the facility as an astronaut-training center for an actual journey to the red planet.