NewsFlash: ISS May Serve as Site for a Simulated Mars Mission



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

NASA’s space station program manager Mike Suffredini said before astronauts can fly beyond low-Earth orbit, they’ll have to spend more than six months aloft at a time,  the typical tour for space station crews. To date, no NASA astronaut has spent more than seven months in space on a single mission.

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 added.

Steps are under way, however, for such an effort, and scientists and flight surgeons already are working on plans. The goal would be to have all the data in hand so the space station can be used as a Mars test bed before its projected demise in 2020 or thereafter.

NASA’s future for manned exploration is still hotly debated between Moon and Mars missions. The cost promises to be a major factor, along with the development of rocketships that can deliver the mission.

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