About 100 excited Chinese teenagers completed a five-hour tour of a space colony against a desolate backdrop not unlike the desert planet of Tatooine, the home world of Luke Skywalker.
They were not on the set of Star Wars, but at a Chinese-built Mars simulation base in the barren, windswept hills of Gansu province.
Mars Base 1 Camp, covering an area about one-fifth of an American football field, is the brainchild of a media company and officials in Gansu, a poor province in northwest China.
Officials hope the camp, about 40 km (25 miles) from the township of Jinchang, will boost tourism and allow visitors to feel as though they are on the red planet.
Apart from being a tourist attraction, the camp has collaborated with the Astronauts Center of China (ACC) to eventually turn the facility into an astronaut-training center.