Seven females in a space ship together? What could possibly go wrong?
The Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBP) in Moscow began an all-female simulated lunar circumnavigation project on Wednesday, as the country’s space program looks to take off.
The test and flight simulation project, named “Moon-2015”, is designed to simulate an eight-day round trip to the moon, reaching lunar orbit before returning to the Earth.
An all-female crew will live inside a mock spaceship in a wood-paneled suite at the IBP to gather information on female responses to isolation, cohabitation, crew functionality, and other characteristics of spaceflight.
The six volunteers selected from IBP staff, have strong scientific, medical or research backgrounds and have similar medical, physical and physiological characteristics that would be required of a real space crew.
“Our special psychologists have communicated with all the volunteers. Certain methods have been used to test their character compatibility which is quite a concern for the qualification examination committee,” said Alexandr Smoleevskiy, a Russian physiologist involved in the project.
The participants, who have already been undergoing training ahead of the test, said their biggest challenge will be shutting off from the outside world. One crewmember said she felt fortunate as their project lasts only eight days, far less than Russia’s previous “Mars-500” project which concluded in 2011 after 520 days.
“I can’t imagine working in isolation for even 80 days. We have spent a whole day in the capsule to test the devices in a space environment and get familiar with our living conditions and we already felt the impact of being isolated. We wonder how the participants in the “Mars-500″ were able to finish their mission,” said Elena Luchitskaya, a volunteer of the “Moon-2015” project.