Crew Emerges From 520-Day Mars 'Flight'
Mission 'lands' without ever leaving planet
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2011 11:28 AM CDT
An international crew of researchers pose outside a set of windowless modules after a grueling 520-day simulation of a flight to Mars, Friday, Nov. 4 2011.   (AP Photo/IMBP, Oleg Voloshin, Pool)
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(Newser) – They’re free—and they don’t appear to have gone crazy. The crew of Russia’s simulated Mars mission has landed, by which we mean, been released from the narrow confines of the “spaceship” they’ve been trapped in for 520 days. The six men, ages 27 to 38, grinned widely as they greeted the crowd outside the capsule. “We hope that we can help in designing the future missions to Mars,” Frenchman Romain Charles said, according to the AP.

The crew simulated all aspects of a trip to the red planet, including a brief jaunt on the planet's "surface"—a sand-filled room. Messages from loved ones were sent on a delay and sometimes even disrupted. The crew will be quarantined for three days before being released, and they’ll each receive around $100,000 for their trouble. What then? “I want to go somewhere to the warm sea,” said team leader Alexey Sitev, who was married just weeks before the voyage. “We have missed two summers here.”