Six people simulate flight to the moon, in Russia


The experiment is part of the SIRIUS (Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station) program, conducted in cooperation with NASA, and was held in Russia.

They were three women and three men, who will be confined for 17 days, starting on November 7, in a special module in Moscow, Russia, to conduct a simulation experience of a flight to the Moon.

This experiment is part of the SIRIUS (Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station) program, and is carried out in cooperation with NASA, with an expected duration of five years.

“Before we wanted to conquer space, now it’s more about learning how to live and working in space”, Oleg Orlov, the director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Moscow, who heads the project, explained to AFP.

The 17 days of this first stage “represent the time required to fly to the Moon, to go around the lunar orbit, and to return to the planet Earth”, Orlov explained.

For the following steps, similar isolation experiments of 4, 8 and 12 months are envisaged.
SIRIUS mainly seeks to develop a medical assistance system for interplanetary flights, thus studying both the psychological aspects of the team in isolation and the physiological aspects (as the change of the heart rate).

“One of the major medical problems aboard a spacecraft is its absolute autonomy. It is necessary that they learn to deal with the situation alone”, Orlov said, recalling that signals sent from space usually arrive with some delay to Earth.

Another issue that will be studied carefully, is in the module where the six participants, of 250 cubic meters, are confined, to be more than one sex.

“It is the first time in Russian and Soviet history that a ‘space’ team includes more than one woman”, a psychologist involved in the project, Vadim Gushchin of the Moscow Institute of Medical and Biological Problems, told AFP.

The three women, including cosmonaut Anna Kikina (aged 33) and psychology researchers Elena Luchitskaya (37) and Natalia Lysova (27) accompany three men, including cosmonaut Mark Serov, the German engineer of origin Russian Viktor Fetter and doctor Ilia Rukavishnikov.

“With this mixed team we will study what happens when we increase the number of women”, explained Gushchin.