Posts Tagged ‘ cosmonaut ’

Mars500 Experiment: The Definitive “End of an Era” in Space Exploration

Seventeen months ago, somewhere in Moscow, a group of international space aviators climbed into a big metal capsule and pretended to fly to Mars.  I’ll let you read some excerpts from the BBC article and draw your own conclusions on the importance of this faux mission to the red planet.  Afterwards, feel free to read my rant if you have the stomach for it.

The full article can be found here.

After 520 days of isolation, three Russians, two Europeans and a Chinese man have emerged from their sealed capsule.

Their 70-million mile journey within the confines of a warehouse in Moscow is complete, bringing to an end the simulated flight by the European Space Agency that sought to test the physiological and psychological impact of a mission to Mars…

…In February, three of the crew members made a mock landing on Mars – complete with space suits and assisted by a robot rover. But in fact, they were still in a Moscow suburb.

The mission “tried to make the surface look like Mars” using sand, but it was no comparison to the planet’s lack of oxygen or gravity levels, says Christer Fuglesang, head of the Science and Application Division of ESA…

…A real mission to Mars would actually take about three years, almost double the time of the Mars500 experiment, says Mr Wade.

Once there, the crew would spend about 18 months on the planet’s surface, carrying out research while Earth and Mars realigned sufficiently for the trip back.

Perhaps the most obvious difference is that the Mars500 simulation went nowhere.

"To Infinity...and Beyond!"

“The people in the Mars simulation know that they’re on Earth,” says Mr Whitehouse. “If they really needed to, they could open a door and get out.”

For that reason, it doesn’t provide the same stressful environment of a real mission.

My take is this:  we’re done with space travel.  It’s over.  We’ll never go to Mars.  Forty years ago we were blasting people off the planet and landing on the moon.  Now we’re just playing make-believe, and for what?  What could they possibly have hoped to learn from putting half a dozen people in solitary confinement for a year and a half?  “Woohoo! They didn’t go crazy and murder each other!  It’s TOTALLY possible to send someone to Mars!”

Right.  If only our governments had the funding or the desire.  In case you’re curious or just don’t believe how stupid this whole thing is, here’s a very boring video of our heroes getting out of the capsule:

http://www.space.com/13503-mars500-crew-emerges-520-day-simulation.html

I feel a little sorry for the guys in the pod.  Since the Cold War ended, nobody really ever reaches for the stars anymore.   However, the dream is still alive in a lot of individuals.  These guys dedicated their whole lives to the pursuit, and in the end they got stuffed in a tin can and sold a year and a half of their lives for basically nothing.  They’re never going to Mars.  No one is.  Ever.

War was the catalyst that produced the Space Race.  We wanted to see who could make the bigger rocket, and by extension, the bigger bomb.  Now that mankind has all but perfected the science of dropping massive warheads on people, what possible motivation is left to justify the cost of traveling through to the stars?

Stunts like this are lip-service to a future that will never be.

Future.

That used to be such an amazing word to me.  Those of you who grew up with Ray Bradbury and Gene Rodenbury probably know what I’m talking about.  With every passing day I begin to believe more and more that the future is dead.  In school, we were basically taught that the passage of time would ultimately yield more and more progress.  More technology.  More discovery.

It breaks my heart to see us rolling backwards downhill on something that means so much to so many people.

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