A room with no view

Posted by Francis Reddy
on Friday, June 22, 2007

Looking for a different sort of vacation? Consider a trip to Mars.

The European Space Agency (ESA) wants you. The mission, slated to begin next summer, is to work and live in a simulated spaceship for a 520-day round-trip to the Red Planet. Aside from weightlessness and radiation, the simulation will follow a real Mars mission as close as possible.

ESA's call for candidates went out Tuesday. By late Thursday, the agency had received 2,000 applications.

If selected, you'll first jet to Moscow for astronaut training. Some candidates may be selected to participate in one of several shorter, 100-day jaunts in the facility at Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems. But a lucky few will voyage to Mars.

The facility's appointments are excellent as space travel goes - essentially, a one-star hotel room styled after the International Space Station (shared bath, no shower). All food, lodging, and even limited medical care are included in the trip, but tobacco and alcohol are forbidden.

About 250 days after "launch," you'll fire your braking rockets and enter Mars orbit. You and the rest of the crew will then climb into a single lander-style module, where you'll simulate a Mars landing. You'll enjoy kicking up faux martian dust in this 30-day Red Planet excursion package, included free of charge. Then it's back to the mothership for the 240-day trip home....   

The goal of the Mars space flight, the longest simulation of its kind, is to work out kinks in the human side of the equation. The crew will have workloads and schedules similar to current orbital flights, and the "astronauts" will be isolated and confined. If previous long-duration Russian missions — both real and simulated — are any guide, the nadir of crew morale will come somewhere around day 390, three-quarters of the way through the trip.

Operators are standing by.

To leave a comment you must be a member of our community.
Login to your account now, or register for an account to start participating.
No one has commented yet.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.



Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter. View our Privacy Policy.

Find us on Facebook