An international team of researchers climbed into a set of windowless steel capsules Thursday to launch a 520-day simulation of a flight to Mars intended to help real space crews of the future cope with confinement, stress and fatigue of interplanetary travel.
The six-member, all-male crew of three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian-Colombian and a Chinese will follow a tight regimen of experiments and exercise under video surveillance, The Associated Press informs.
"This isn''t a joke. It will give a lot of useful information, not just about Mars but also for Earth," said Dr Christer Fuglesang, a Swedish astronaut with the human space flight directorate of the European Space Agency (ESA).
He rejected suggestions that the experiment, named Mars 500, was more Red Dwarf than red planet, TopNews reports.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia