China Brings Mars A Little Closer with Replica on Tibet Plateau

Beijing: The 55m-kilometre jaunt from planet Earth to the red planet takes up to a year. From Beijing’s international airport you’ll soon be able to fly there in just over seven hours.

According to a report by the Guardian, in the latest leg of its multi-billion dollar race for space, China has unveiled plans to build a 400m yuan (£47m) replica of Mars on a spectacular, sandswept corner of the Tibetan plateau.

The “simulated Mars station” – a 95,000 square-kilometre tribute to the solar system’s second-smallest planet – will be built in Qinghai province’s Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan autonomous prefecture, not far from the westernmost tip of the Great Wall.

Liu Xiaoqun, a space exploration expert from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who is leading the attempt to recreate Mars on Earth, declined to speak to the daily about the project.

But local reports suggest the remote desert base will be used for a mix of serious space research and money-spinning glamping of the sort that is becoming increasingly popular among well-off Chinese.

One section of the “hyper-arid” high-altitude camp will be used to train Chinese astronauts, state broadcaster CCTV reported earlier this summer.

Another part will receive tourists hungering for a taste of life on Mars. “People dream about migrating to Mars, so what we want to do is give people a high-end experience of what it would actually be like to live in outer space,” Liu said, according to the South China Morning Post.

China is fighting to transform itself into a space superpower, as part of a wider bid for international prestige that has accelerated since Xi Jinping took power in 2012.