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The Mars 500 isolation facility where six crewmembers will live  (Source: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Six people are now locked inside a simulation chamber that will mimic a mission to Mars

A highly anticipated 520-day simulation of a manned mission to Mars is now underway in a virtual spacecraft that is located in Moscow.

As part of the monitored test, all six participants will not be able to leave the controlled environment until the project ends in November 2011.  The first 250 days will focus on a mock flight to Mars, with a 30-day scheduled "exploration" of the Martian surface, and a 230-day return trip.

There are three Russians, one French citizen, one Italian-Colombian, and one Chinese citizen currently living in the Mars500 isolation facility.  The crew will have two days off each week, but must remain inside of the capsule during the entire mock mission.

"Certainly, the crew is largely on its own here, with very limited communications with the outside world," said Martin Zell, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, in an interview with the AP.  "They have to cope internally with a lot of conditions and to organize themselves."

The six-man crew will be able to communicate with their friends and family using the internet -- which will be interrupted to help mimic in-space communications -- and can only consume canned and freeze dried supplies like on the International Space Station (ISS).

Some critics have said that this mission isn't realistic, but the organizers of the mission, led by the European, Russian and Chinese space programs, said it will give the countries a better insight into how certain technologies will work in space.

As the ISS mission winds down, space nations already have their sights set on manned missions to Mars.  It's likely the moon will be used as a stepping stone to the Red Planet, as it'll still be decades before a country is expected to launch a crew to Mars.



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6 men locked together
By taber on 6/4/2010 1:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
Seems to me they're leaving what's potentially one of the biggest parts of the experiment out. What's the likelihood any trip to Mars would be all male? I could almost see matching up 3 married couples being more realistic. Guess they just wanted to leave the sexual harassment out of this one:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6955149/page/3/

Best of luck to them in getting a good bit of useful info out of this regardless.




RE: 6 men locked together
By jdsal on 6/4/2010 1:45:52 AM , Rating: 5
What would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant. The child could potentially be either born in space or on Mars.

Would that child be an Earthling or the first citizen of Mars?

Makes me wonder...


RE: 6 men locked together
By therealnickdanger on 6/4/2010 8:57:38 AM , Rating: 1
The first ever Martian baby? Very cool! Of course, the solution is to give all the men a vasectomy. Then they can bone their way to the Red Planet.. or Uranus.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MrBlastman on 6/4/2010 10:47:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then they can bone their way... [to] Uranus.


Well that would just torpedo the operation right there... err wait, times six.


By StraightCashHomey on 6/4/2010 11:35:50 AM , Rating: 2
Heyoooooooooo


RE: 6 men locked together
By rburnham on 6/7/2010 11:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
I wanna tell ya!


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/4/2010 9:04:09 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
TextWhat would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant.


In time you'd have a baby.

Before I knew they were all male I was thinking. Six go in Nine come out.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MozeeToby on 6/4/2010 9:46:14 AM , Rating: 3
Odds are high that if the pregnancy began en route it would not be a successful one. Studies of mice in space have shown that fetal development can't take place in low gravity. The experiment that would have told us if martian and/or moon gravity would be sufficient got canceled for budget reasons a few years ago, so for right now we just don't know. Imagine if it's not and we colonize Mars anyway, women would have to spend nine months living in a giant centrifuge to have a healthy baby.


RE: 6 men locked together
By Spookster on 6/4/2010 12:31:04 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
by jdsal on June 4, 2010 at 1:45 AM

What would happen if there was a mixed gender crew and someone got pregnant. The child could potentially be either born in space or on Mars.

Would that child be an Earthling or the first citizen of Mars?

Makes me wonder...


Hopefully it would be a male baby so they could name him Marvin.


RE: 6 men locked together
By Cr0nJ0b on 6/4/2010 5:48:54 PM , Rating: 3
Seriously...think about what this might mean to say the chinese government...to have a citizen that has some territorial claim to Mars...That, I think, would be a big deal when it comes to future colonization.

They would likely make this a primary goal for their crew. Timing would have to be just right, and you would have to have some facility on mars that could handle the birth...but to claim that the first person born on Mars in the last 20,000 years is of Chinese descent...well that might be worth the whole mission.


RE: 6 men locked together
By MamiyaOtaru on 6/6/2010 6:47:39 AM , Rating: 2
the first person born on Mars in the last 20,000 years

ENTERPRISEMISSION'D


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 6/4/2010 9:25:07 AM , Rating: 5
hmmmm... Maybe all 6 of these men are married. They are just looking for a little peace and quiet. If they are stocked up with playing cards, cigars, poker chips, chips, pretzels, and beer, research will not be the number one thing on their list of things to do.


RE: 6 men locked together
By aguilpa1 on 6/4/2010 1:59:38 PM , Rating: 3
why women in the mix wouldn't be a good idea. Think how awkward and potentially violent a scene becomes when a relationship goes bad at work among coworkers (much drama). Now think about that but being locked in a tin can for over a year. Hmmm, not such a good idea huh?


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov











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