All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission test

October 28, 2015
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon. Credit: NASA

Six Russian women on Wednesday clambered into a mock spaceship to begin a unique experiment testing how an all-female crew would interact on a trip to the Moon and back.

For eight days, the female volunteers will live inside a wood-panelled suite of rooms at Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems, renowned for its wacky research into the psychological and physical effects of .

The institute in 2010 locked six male international volunteers in an isolation experiment lasting 520 days, to simulate a flight to Mars and back.

"Such a crew is taking part for the first time in a simulation experiment. It's interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates," said Sergei Ponomaryov, the experiment's supervisor.

"It will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology," said the institute's director Igor Ushakov.

"I'd like to wish you a lack of conflicts, even though they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together," he added.

The volunteers include scientific researchers, a doctor and a psychologist.

The test period simulates a flight to the Moon and back, with the carrying out 10 experiments covering psychology and human biology.

Russia sent the first woman into , Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963 but has lagged behind since. Last year it sent its fourth female cosmonaut into space, Yelena Serova.

Serova complained of a flurry of media interest in how she would wash her hair aboard the International Space Station, pointing out that male cosmonauts did not face the same line of questioning.

Ponomaryov called the latest experiment an effort to make up for lost time.

"There's never been an all-female crew on the ISS. We consider the future of space belongs equally to men and women and unfortunately we need to catch up a bit after a period when unfortunately there haven't been too many women in space."

'Beautiful without makeup'

Despite the mission being presented as a giant step for gender equality, the women—who wore red jumpsuits—found themselves fielding questions at a press conference about how they would cope without men or makeup for eight days.

"We are very beautiful without makeup," parried participant Darya Komissarova.

Her colleague Anna Kussmaul was more direct: "We are doing work. When you're doing your work, you don't think about men and women."

Like their counterparts on the International Space Station the women will have no shower, washing with wet wipes instead.

They plan to spend their 1 1/2 hours per day of free time watching films, reading and playing board games.

Team leader Yelena Luchnitskaya said she expected the women to deal with any conflict.

"I'm sure we all have the education, personal qualities and the upbringing, at the end of the day," she said.

"So far I can't imagine what would rattle us."

Explore further: Russian women finish test on space flight confinement

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8 comments

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Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Oct 28, 2015
This will be interesting...:-)
antigoracle
3 / 5 (2) Oct 28, 2015
They plan to spend their 1 1/2 hours per day of free time watching films, reading and playing board games.

And I hope, pillow fights.
Bulbuzor
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 28, 2015
How can an eight days trial be remotely relevant to analyze cohabitation issues and human psychology? I hope they won't compare these results with the 520 days trial and draw conclusions...
PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2015
How can an eight days trial be remotely relevant to analyze cohabitation issues and human psychology? I hope they won't compare these results with the 520 days trial and draw conclusions...
They're simulating a lunar mission, not a Martian one, though the article did mention the 2010 all-male 520-day Martian simulation.
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Hope they don't forget the S'mores.
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Returners
2 / 5 (4) Oct 28, 2015
It's interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates


She saw her sister's ex-husband's boyfriends cousin at the mall and...

Like their counterparts on the International Space Station the women will have no shower, washing with wet wipes instead.


Needs fragrances.
Bulbuzor
1 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2015
How can an eight days trial be remotely relevant to analyze cohabitation issues and human psychology? I hope they won't compare these results with the 520 days trial and draw conclusions...
They're simulating a lunar mission, not a Martian one, though the article did mention the 2010 all-male 520-day Martian simulation.
.
Hope they don't forget the S'mores.
.
.


Yep I do realize this concerns an 8 day mission, but I still do not see the relevance of it all, 8 days is just too small (in my opinion) to get any conclusions on psychology and cohabitation issues. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I just don't believe that an 8 day cohabitation, for real missions I mean, is an actual issue for astronauts unless there is some personnal friction (which we could see prior to the mission) and is therefore a case-to-case issue.
Milou
not rated yet Oct 31, 2015
There will be lots of cat hair on the floor. Meow... .
AGreatWhopper
not rated yet Nov 02, 2015
Need to install another battery charger, particularly on long missions. Better upgrade the comms link too to handle the extra bandwidth from crew members posing on nude chat sites during down time.

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