Virtual astronauts needed for 17 month lockup

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Paris (France) – Six people stuck in a capsule.  It’s not an upcoming reality show, but a scheme by the European Space Agency to simulate a trip to Mars.  Six men and women will be locked up in a virtual space ship in Moscow and will have to fend for themselves for 17 months.  The group will eat packaged astronaut food and will have to endure emergencies and communications delays.

The agency is accepting applications from Russian citizens and other citizens from nations belonging to the ESA.  The lucky winners, if you can call them that, will be locked up in a mock spaceship with about 19250 cubic feet of space.  Each person will be paid about $180 a day which totals up to around $92,000 dollars for the entire tour of duty.

To make the experience completely authentic, the crew will be given packaged foods similar to what astronauts eat.  They will also talk to a mission control, but those communications will be delayed, just like they would in real life.  Initially the delay will be a few seconds, but will increase to approximately 40 minutes to simulate delays from Earth to Mars. The entire 17 month ‘journey” will simulate 250 days of outbound travel, a short trip on simulated Martian surface and a return trip of equal time.

Psychological stability will be one of the main factors that the ESA will examine.  After all, you don’t want the crew fighting and possibly killing each other during the “flight”.  Space is probably the worst place to have the roommate from hell.