«Mars-500» project
Simulation of a manned flight to Mars

Brief history of isolation experiments conducted at the Institute for Bio-Medical problems in the period from 1967 to 2000

The idea of conduction of ground-based experiment on simulation of a long-term space flight appeared more than 40 years ago – they began to conduct such experiments in IBMP as early as at the end of the 60-s.

The first similar experiment was conducted in the period from November 1967 to November 1968. During this one-year medical-technical experiment (that is more famous as “A year in Earth spaceship”) tests of life support systems were conducted and assessment of possibility of living in hermetical facility with isolation of three volunteers-investigators.

However for simulation of a flight to Mars it was necessary to create conditions, that were maximally close to the real ones, that cosmonauts would face in the real flight. First of all, it was necessary to isolate the crew completely for a long time and to create the system of biomedical support of the Martian expedition. For these purposes in 1964-1970 GEF  - Ground- based experimental facility (more official name is Medical-technical facility) was designed and built. IBMP, RSC “Energia”, “Zvezda” plant, SRI of chemical machine-building, Test-flight institute participated in building. Setting into operations was conducted in 1970.

In the period from 1971 to 2000 in GEF experiments were conducted in which methodologies and ways of human adaptation to conditions of a long-term space flight were verified. Thus, in 1971-1975 a series of experiments was conducted with the duration of 60-120 days with the aim to investigate reaction of the organism and its separate systems on long-term staying in extreme conditions, to verify models and technological regimes of promising LSS, to collect and process medical information.

In the period from September 1976 to January 1977 120-day experiment was conducted. Its main tasks were to verify the on-board system of water regeneration for everyday purposes and regimes of communication with ground-based services, investigation of group dynamics in an isolated small group with participation of the “visiting crew”.

In May-June 1980 25-day experiment was conducted. Its purposes were investigation of acoustic environment and psychological compatibility during “coming” of women visiting crew.

From February to April 1983 60-day experiment was conducted, its main purposes included investigation of behavior of the mixed main crew and simulation of situations of an acute period of adaptation with performance of difficult operator’s activity on controlling of the facility.

In May-July 1983 90-day experiment was conducted, the main purpose of which was verification of the system of oxygen regeneration “Electron”.

In 1984 (March-June) 90-day experiment was conducted with investigation of acoustics in GEF during work of on-board LSS. Then, in May-July 1987 one more 90-day experiment was conducted with the main task to investigate psycho-physiological state of the crew during simulation of three emergency situations with the duration of 6 days each (changed work and rest regime, changed parameters of the habitat, etc.).

In June-July 1989 30-day experiment was conducted in which the crew was to assess the functional state of the operators and their professional operator’s activity in conditions of long-term staying in the habitat with decreased (up to 16%) oxygen content. And then more interesting investigations followed.

In the period from September 1994 to January 1995 HUBES (Human Behavior in Extended Spaceflight) experiment was conducted, the aim of which was to simulate flight of ESA cosmonaut on board “Mir” orbital station (EURO-MIR-95 program).

From October 21, 1995 to January 22, 1996 in GEF 90-day experiment ECOPSY-95 was conducted, during which an attempt was made to formulate the notion of psycho-physiological comfort of the habitat, to assess interaction of humans and habitat, possibility to control dynamics of this process.

And finally from February 2, 1999 to March 22, 2000 240-day SFINCSS-99 (Simulation of Flight of International Crew on Space Station) experiment was conducted. Its main task was simulation of ISS flight. Three main crews included representatives from five countries, including women. Besides, three visiting crews were formed. In the program of SFINCSS-99 experiment 80 experiments were realized, prepared by scientists of Russia, Japan, Germany, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Czechia and Austria.

From 2000 in the modules short-term experiments with isolation were conducted, aimed at verification of separate systems of prophylaxis of weightlessness, psychological and other medical aspects of space flights. Immediately after SFINCSS-99 experiment working at the question of simulation of a real manned human flight to other planet began. This mission differs greatly from flights around Earth, and it is necessary to solve a wide circle of questions on its medical and other support.

For this “Mars-500” program has been developed. In 2006 three existing modules were re-equipped completely, new life support systems were created, systems of maintenance of temperature regime and water supply. In 2007 specially for “Mars-500” project an additional, forth hermetical module was built with the volume of 250 m3 (EU-250). At the beginning of 2008 building of the fifth module with simulation of the Martian surface began. After its completion the whole facility will be ready completely for “Mars-500” experiment..

© Development and desing: Oleg Voloshin