04/12/2012 05:29 GMT | Updated 03/02/2013 05:12 GMT

China 'To Grow Vegetables On Mars' Reports State Media

China is planning to grow vegetables on Mars, it has been announced.

That's despite the country's expanding and ambitious - but young - space agency not having a permanent space station in orbit around the Earth - let alone the Moon or the Red Planet.

State media reported that successful tests have been completed in a Beijing lab to grow four kinds of veg in an "ecological life support system".

China apparently has a 300 cubic metre cabin in which its scientists are growing food, and producing water and air, which could be used during space missions to the Moon or even Mars.

The experiments are reminiscent of similar projects being undertaken by Nasa and private companies, with a view to establishing permanent human settlements on other worlds.

READ MORE: Nasa Finds Hints Of Organic Compounds On Mars

The Xinhua news agency quoted Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing's Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Centre, as saying:

"Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future."

China has a stated goal of landing a space craft on the moon next year, though it will be unmanned.

Long term it is planning to send its astronauts mission to the moon - possibly before the end of the decade, even as the US scales back its own ambitions in space and relies more heavily on private companies.

It has now been more than 40 years since a human walked on the Moon, and while interest in space exploration remains high there are no scheduled missions to other planets or Moons currently in place.

Recently Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, said he wants to build a colony of 80,000 settlers to live permanently on Mars before the end of his life.