The names of the participants in a 520-day simulation of an expedition to Mars were announced on Tuesday. Six main participants plus one reserve will take part in the experiment in the Mars-500 module, 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 crew is likely to be headed by a Russian participant,” the project’s director, Boris Morukov, said, adding that there will be also a flight engineer and a doctor. Three other crew members will be researchers.
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 Mars-500 project started in the Moscow Institute of Medical and Biological Problems and included 11 candidates: seven candidates from Russia and one each from China, France, Italy and Belgium.
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.
The list of participants includes two Russian engineers, 37-year-old Mikhail Sidelnikov and 38-year-old Alexei Sitev, Russian surgeon Sukhrob Kamolov, 32 and Russian general practitioner Alexander Smolevsky, 33, as well as Italian Diego Urbina, 27, China’s Wang Yue, 27, and 31-year-old Roman Charles from France.
The reserve has not yet been named.
Morukov added that the experiment is scheduled to begin on June 3 this year and the participants will be paid 3 million rubles ($100,000).