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Reuters/Thomas Peter
A staff member poses in a mock space suit at the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
OTHERWORLDLY

A futuristic simulation of a Chinese Mars mission has opened in the Gobi Desert

By Johnny Simon

China’s propensity for over-the-top amusement parks and gimmicky tourists destinations is well-documented. While some seem like more of a dare, like a giant glass-bottom bridge suspended over a deep canyon, many of China’s tourist traps are designed to transport the visitor, whether it be to Europe or back centuries of Chinese history.

Add Mars to that list. Recently opened in Gansu province, and set among the orange backdrop of the Gobi Desert, C-Space Project Mars simulates a speculative Chinese-led mission to the red planet. China has shown grand ambitions for space travel. It successfully dropped a lander and rover on the far side of the moon in December, and it plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020.

Much like how the rugged Hawaiian landscape has been used as a testing grounds for future missions, the Gobi’s dusty red topography is a decent stand-in for Mars. But while the HI-SEAS project is real research conducted by a university, C-Space seems to be more in the realm of speculative science fiction, aimed at the imaginations of school groups and tourists.

Reuters visited the site of the project, which currently occupies a plot about the size of a football field. The developers have lofty goals, to the tune of a multibillion-yuan investment, with the plan of it occupying 26 sq miles (67 sq km), Reuters reports.

Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students approach the C-Space Project Mars simulation base in the Gobi Desert outside Jinchang, Gansu Province, China, on April 17.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A C-Space staff member sets up a sign in the shape of a space suit.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A staff member demonstrates how she puts on the helmet of a mock space suit.
Students walk through Gobi Desert
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Groups of students walk through the Gobi Desert near the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students line up at the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students leave a mock space capsule after a lesson.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
The interior of a mock space capsule at the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students are seen from inside an installation representing a cave on Mars.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students raise their hands to answer a question.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A staff member looks into a mock space capsule.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A staff member poses in a mock space suit at the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students gather around a mock space capsule.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A dining room in the simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Sleeping capsules in the simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A mock laboratory inside the simulation base.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Students build a toy rocket at the C-Space Project Mars simulation base.
Fake vegetables
Reuters/Thomas Peter
Fake vegetables are seen at a mock laboratory.
Reuters/Thomas Peter
A mock space capsule of the C-Space Project Mars simulation base is seen at dusk in the Gobi Desert outside Jinchang, Gansu Province, China on April 16.
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