Space sta­tion may give dry run for Mars trip

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

CAPE CANAVERAL | The In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion may pro­vide the set­ting for a 500-day pre­tend trip to Mars in an­other few years.

NASA said Tues­day that con­sid­er­a­tion is un­der way to use the space sta­tion as a dry run for a sim­u­lated trip to and from Mars.

It would be pat­terned af­ter Rus­sia’s mock flight to Mars that lasted 520 days at a Moscow re­search cen­ter. Six men were in­volved in that study, which ended late last year. They were locked in a steel cap­sule.

NASA’S space sta­tion pro­gram man­ager Mike Suf­fre­dini said that be­fore as­tro­nauts can fly be­yond lowEarth or­bit, they will have to spend more than six months aloft at a time. That is the typ­i­cal stint for space sta­tion crews. Five hun­dred days is more than 16 months.

The hu­man en­durance record of 14 months was set by a Rus­sian cos­mo­naut aboard the Mir space sta­tion in the mid-1990s. Only two oth­ers — both Rus­sians — have spent as long as a full year in space.

No NASA as­tro­naut has spent more than seven months in space on a sin­gle mis­sion.

Mr. Suf­fre­dini said he doesn’t ex­pect any such Mars sim­u­la­tion aboard the space sta­tion to oc­cur any sooner than two to three years. Phys­i­cal as well as psy­cho­log­i­cal ques­tions will have to be ad­dressed be­fore any­thing of that sort is at­tempted, he said.

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