Three men and three women in a capsule for 17 days

Three men and three women were shut down today in a specially crafted capsule in Moscow, where they will stay for 17 days as part of an assimilation experiment on a flight to the Moon. The SIRIUS program (which is part of this experiment) is conducted in collaboration with NASA and will last for a total of five years.

“Until recently, the goal was to conquer space, we now have to learn to live and work in space to explore it,” explained Oleg Orlov, the director of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems in Moscow, who is responsible for the program. “This is a methodical work aimed at developing technologies that would allow the life of man in space,” he added, as the AFP transmits.

The first experiment lasts 17 days: so is the time to reach a spacecraft on the moon, make it round and return to Earth. Then, four, eight and twelve-month “isolation” experiments are planned, Orlov said. The project was named SIRIUS by Sirius, the brightest star in the sky that “symbolizes our desire to cross the horizon,” he underlined.

Scientists want primarily to develop a medical aid system for interplanetary flights while studying the psychological and physical effects of astronauts as a result of their isolation. “One of the main problems of doctors within a spacecraft is its absolute autonomy. They have to learn to handle situations in their own, “explained Orlov, recalling that the messages sent by a spacecraft are not taken immediately by the earth but with a delay.

Another important issue that will be scrutinized in this first “mission” of SIRIUS is the gender of the astronauts. “It’s the first time in Russian or Soviet history that a crew includes more than one woman,” said psychologist Vadim Guchin.

Three women, 33-year-old cosmonaut Anna Kikina, 33-year-old and 33-year-old pathophysiology researcher Elena Lutschkagja, 37, and Natalia Lisa, 27, are on SIRIUS with three men: cosmonaut Mark Serov, German mechanic, and doctor Iliya Rukavichnikov, who is specialized in space medicine. “With this mixed crew we will look at what happens when the number of women is growing,” Guchin said.

The six crew members, enclosed in the spacecraft-like capsule, promised to do everything in their power to succeed.

By the end of September, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced that it had signed an agreement with NASA to work on a US plan to build a moon-bound orbit within the Deep Space Gateway program. For its part, Russia aspires to establish a scientific foundation on the moon and hopes to make its first flights to the moon by 2031.

Six volunteers, all men, had been locked for 520 days on a “spacecraft” in Moscow, a simulation of a trip to Mars, in an experiment completed in November 2011.