Saturday, November 5, 2011

Russian Space Isolation Experiment Ends

November 04, 2011

MOSCOW -- A grueling 520-day mock flight to Mars came to an end on November 4, as six male researchers emerged from the hatch of a sealed metal capsule where they have been confined for 17 months.

The $15 million experiment known as Mars500 was designed to test the ability of the human mind to sustain the punishing isolation of travel to the Red Planet, even though a manned space voyage to Mars still appears decades away.

Dressed in blue cosmonaut suits, the pallid crew members exchanged smiles as they briefly spoke to journalists beneath natural light before being taken away for further testing.

"It is really great to see you all again -- rather overwhelming," said Diego Urbina, an Italian-Colombian member of the team that also includes three Russians, a Chinese man, and a Frenchman. "On the Mars500 mission, we have achieved on Earth the longest space voyage ever, so that humankind can one day create a new dawn on the surface of a distant but reachable planet."

"After 520 days of a motionless trip, we are proud today to prove that humans can go to Mars," said French crew member Romain Charles.

Scientists are now avidly awaiting the results of further testing.

Read more here.

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