Yes, a significant part of the Mars 500 simulation is about to get to a major milestone.
Here’s what the AP had to say about this leg of the simulated mission to Mars. The simulation is from inside a lab in Moscow.
The six men are due to "land" on Mars on Feb. 12 and spend two days researching the planet. They then begin the months-long return flight to Earth, expected to be the most challenging part of the mission.
"It will be very tough on the boys because of the monotony," Morukov said. "The fatigue and the thought that the mission is over can be fraught with negative consequences."
The Mars-500 experiment is being conducted by the Moscow-based Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, the European Space Agency and China’s space training center.
In an effort to reproduce the conditions of space travel, with exception of weightlessness, the crew has living quarters the size of a bus connected with several other modules for experiments and exercise. A separate built-in imitator of the Red Planet’s surface is attached for the mock landing.
A real mission to Mars is decades away because of its huge costs and major technological challenges, particularly the task of creating a compact shield that would protect the crew from deadly space radiation.
Here’s what Songs of Space and Nuclear War had to say about the event when it kicked off:
Humble Pie sang of 30 days in the hole. Six ‘terrastronauts’ (I made that up in case you like it) are looking at 500 days of lock-up in a Moscow-based simulated spacecraft. The purpose is to serve as a sort of pathfinder-effort culminating in a manned mission to Mars. It’s all sponsored by the European Space Agency.
The simulation is needed to examine the human needs for what would be a 520 day mission to Mars–250 there, explore for a month, and 230 for the trip home. Coming back, we’re looking at space tail-winds, eh?
When might such a Mars mission actually occur? I’m not really sure, but if you’re reading this, you’ll almost certainly be dead. Does that sound harsh? Sorry.
The six will remain in lockup until November 2011 unless some sort of sci-fi type event occurs.
Although this was a male-only crew, remember that Mars needs women, something the AP failed to notice.