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Mars-500 experiment could be extended to 700 days - space agency

RIA Novosti

22/08/2007 14:20 ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), August 22 (RIA Novosti) - A simulated Mars mission, expected to be launched in Russia later this year, could be extended from 500 to 700 days, the head of the Russian Space Agency said Wednesday.

Speaking at the MAKS-2007 air show outside Moscow, Anatoly Perminov said: "There are proposals to extend the Mars-500 experiment at the Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Studies...probably to 700 days."

Five volunteers have already been chosen from among 150 applicants, including 16 women, to participate in a simulated space flight whose start has been scheduled for the last quarter of 2007.

The six-member crew will spend almost two years inside an experimental research complex comprising five modules set up on the institute's premises to experience the daily routine of professional astronauts, including medicals, workouts and maintenance of station equipment, and will have to cope with simulated emergency situations, arising both from human error and equipment failure.

The experiment is divided into three parts - a flight "en route" to Mars, landing and staying on the Red Planet's surface and a journey "back to Earth."

The crew is expected to spend the duration of the experiment in an artificial atmosphere, with normal barometric pressure, and to consume food rations similar to those used by astronauts on board the International Space Station.

The European Space Agency has expressed an interest in contributing to the project, including research and financial support.

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