Chinese astronauts will soon be able to develop their own air, water and food in space after scientists in Beijing successfully wrapped up a landmark experiment.

Astronauts could “harvest fresh vegetables for meals” in extra-terrestrial bases on the moon or Mars following the experiment on a 300 cubic meter “ecological life support system” where four kinds of vegetable were grown, Xinhua news agency said Monday.

“Chinese astronauts may get fresh vegetables and oxygen supplies by gardening in extra-terrestrial bases in the future,” Xinhua quoted Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing’s Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, as saying.

China has been ramping up its space ambitions – which include plans to land an exploratory craft on the moon and launch a manned mission to the moon – as the United States scales back its space activities. No other country has landed a man on the moon since the US accomplished the feat in 1972.

Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut aboard the Shenzhou 5, who orbited the earth in 2003, said that Chinese astronauts may even start a branch of China’s ruling Communist Party in space.

“If we establish a party branch in space, it would be the ‘highest of its kind in the world,” Xinhua quoted Yang as saying last month.