'Virtual Mars' Crew Locked in 'Spaceship' for 18 Months

Russia launches simulated mission in study
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2010 2:05 AM CDT
Updated Jun 3, 2010 5:45 AM CDT
Researchers test spacesuits on a simulated Mars surface during a training session at Moscow's Institute for Medical and Biological Problems.    (AP Photo/IBMP, Oleg Voloshin, HO)
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(Newser) – A multinational crew of cosmonauts will be embarking on a 520-day mission to nowhere today. The all-male crew—three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian, and a Chinese man—are taking part in a Mars mission simulation at a Moscow medical center locked in capsules, the BBC reports. The experiment aims to study the effects of fatigue, isolation, and stress.

The six-member crew, including two doctors, will spend the next year and a half in the four windowless canisters that comprise the mock spaceship, carrying out experiments to send to "mission control." All the supplies the crew will need for the mission have already been loaded, and there will be no resupply, scientists say. A fifth canister features a mock Red Planet, which three crew members will visit halfway through the mission.

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