Crew Embarks on 520-Day Mock Mission to Mars


Six men from Europe, Russia and China embarked on a 520-day mock mission to Mars, heading out to a crew module in a warehouse in Moscow and locking the hatches behind them today. The mission runs from June 2010 to November 2011, and like a real Mars mission, the crew will live and work like astronauts, eating special food and exercising the same way as crews aboard the International Space Station. Additionally their communications with their mission control and anyone else from the rest of the world will have a delay of up to 40 minutes.

A joint project between the Russian space agency and ESA, officials said the mood was serious, intense but very determined in the Mars500 facility at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow as the crew talked to the press and then walked into the modules.

Diego Urbina and Romain Charles from Europe, Sukhrob Kamolov, Alexey Sitev, Alexandr Smoleevskiy and Mikhail Sinelnikov from Russia and Wang Yue from China will have a mission that is as ‘real’ as possible. Their mission is to ‘fly to Mars’ in 250 days, divide in two groups, ‘land on and explore Mars’ for a month and ‘return to Earth’ in 230 days, in their special facility imitating an interplanetary spacecraft, lander and Martian terrain.

The Mars 500 facility. Credit: ESA

“It will be trying for all of us. We cannot see our family, we cannot see our friends, but I think it is all a glorious time in our lives,” said Chinese participant Wang Yue, 27, ahead of the experiment.

In addition to evaluating many new technologies, Mars500 will test of human endurance and psychological issues of being confined in a small space and being away from family and friends and a normal Earth-life.

The crew will be keeping online diaries and provide video updates to ESA’s Mars500 site.

Source: ESA

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

Recent Posts

OSIRIS-REx Returns This Sunday!

On Sunday, September 24th, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will deliver samples from the asteroid Benny.

9 hours ago

Machine Learning Algorithms Can Find Anomalous Needles in Cosmic Haystacks

The face of astronomy is changing. Though narrow-field point-and-shoot astronomy still matters (JWST anyone?), large…

18 hours ago

The JWST is Forcing Astronomers to Rethink Early Galaxies

The JWST has surprised astronomers again. Contrary to our existing understanding, the JWST showed us…

2 days ago

The JWST Just Found Carbon on Europa, Boosting the Moon’s Potential Habitability

Most planets and moons in the Solar System are clearly dead and totally unsuitable for…

2 days ago

If You Could See Gravitational Waves, the Universe Would Look Like This

Our biology limits our vision. Our eyes can only perceive specific wavelengths of light. But…

2 days ago

Solar Sails Could Reach Mars in Just 26 Days

A recent study submitted to Acta Astronautica explores the potential for using aerographite solar sails…

2 days ago