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Mars flight simulation project to begin soon in Russia

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MOSCOW (BNS): The Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems will start a 520-day simulation flight for an expedition to Mars in late 2009 or early 2010. The institute is recruiting volunteers to take part in the programme.

"The basic requirements for volunteer testers are the following: age 25-50, higher education, knowledge of the Russian and English languages ensuring professional and household communication," RIA Novosti quoted the institute as saying, adding doctors and engineers are primarily required for the mission.

A 105-day experiment to simulate a flight to Mars ended in July with four Russian scientists and two European Space Agency scientists taking part in it. All the six members spent over three months in a lab that simulated life on board a spaceship.

Each participant was paid $20,000 and underwent a variety of physical, psychological and professional tests. The scientists also tested various life-support, communications and scientific equipment.

The 105-day trial was a continuation of a 14-day experiment in November 2007, and precedes the main event of the 520-day simulation journey to the Red Planet, with a 250-day outward trip, a 30-day stay on its surface, and a 240-day return flight.

The crew members have to face several conditions during their two years stay in space. They have to encounter many circumstances on a real space flight.

They will stick to a rigid daily regime of work, rest and exercise, and follow the same diet as crews aboard the International Space Station.

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