Hugh Pickens writes "Six volunteers have climbed into a small metal capsule in Moscow as part of a three-month experiment meant to simulate a voyage to Mars. The crew — a German engineer, a French airline pilot, and four Russians — will spend the next 105 days living in a minimally furnished facility erected in a hangar on the outskirts of the Russian capital. The German said, 'I think we are going to learn a lot about each other.' A cosmonaut-in-training who will lead the mission was quoted: 'On the inside, we will have a lack of incoming information, so it's the science of sensory deprivation.' A similar experiment in Moscow virtually collapsed when a multinational team of men and women were allowed to drink alcohol on the eve of the millennium, and simmering tensions between Russian and non-Russian volunteers exploded in a fight for the affections of a female Canadian scientist. Only men are involved this time, and no alcohol. Scientists will keep a constant vigil on the team via cameras erected in each of the facility's three modules. Those who survive more than 100 days will earn a $20,000 reward. The current project is a warm-up for a much more ambitious experiment, scheduled for December, which will see another group of volunteers spending over 500 days in the same conditions. With current technology it is estimated that a return trip to Mars will take at least 18 months." The amazing thing is that 5,600 people applied to be part of the experiment.
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