Russia’s Institute of Medical and Biological Problems announced on Thursday the names of 11 volunteers on the shortlist to take part in a 520-day simulation of an expedition to Mars, a spokesman said.
The 11 candidates will complete basic spaceflight training and in spring six of them will be chosen to take part in the experiment, which will simulate all aspects of a journey to the Red Planet, with a 250-day outward trip, a 30-day stay on its surface, and a 240-day return flight.
The basic requirements for volunteers were that they be aged 25-50, have a higher education, and speak Russian and English.
During nearly two years of isolation, the crew members will experience many of the conditions likely to be encountered by astronauts on a real space flight, except for radiation and weightlessness.
The mission simulation is scheduled to begin in late April.
The shortlist includes five Russian engineers: 44-year-old Boris Yegorov, 30-year-old Andrei Zhirnov, 32-year-old Alexander Sukhov, 37-year-old Mikhail Sidelnikov and 38-year-old Alexei Sitev. Two Russian doctors, surgeon Sukhrob Kamolov, 32, and general practitioner Alexander Smolevsky, 33, were also chosen.
The foreign candidates are 34-year-old Archanmael Gaillard from France, Belgian Jerome Clevers, 30, Italian Diego Urbina, 27, and 27-year-old Wang Yue from China.
The institute has already held a 105-day experiment to simulate a flight to Mars, which ended last July. Six people – four Russians and two Europeans – spent over three months in a lab that simulated life on board a spaceship.