December 10, 20:00
MOSCOW, November 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is looking at staging a simulated Mars mission experiment onboard the International Space Station (ISS) to continue the Mars-500 land-based simulated mission, Roscosmos’ deputy head Vitaly Davydov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
“We are interested in staging such an experiment in actual conditions of zero gravity,” he said but admitted that so far the agency has no specific plans. “It is too early to say when such an experiment could be made,” he added.
In his words, such a project might be possible after 2014, since the schedule of ISS work and its crews for the next two years have already been endorsed.
To make the simulated mission, at least two persons will have to spend at least 18 months onboard the station, or much longer than a regular space mission of four to five months. And Russia, Davydov said, cannot take such a decision unilaterally, without consent from other partners in the ISS program. Moreover, in case the crew of a would-be simulated mission is international (and it is planned to engage an international crew for a real Mars mission), it is necessary to specify the share of each party to the project and to decide which country (or countries) the crew members should be from.
Thus, the crew of the Mars-500 project, which ends on November 4, includes three Russians, one French, one Italian, and one Chinese nationals.
In case the experiment is continued onboard the International Space Station, the would-be mission crew will not include a Chinese national (the country is not a member of the ISS program) but it is very much likely to include an astronaut from the United States, since the country is a major sponsor of the program (in case NASA takes a positive decision about the would-be mission, of course).
The current crew of the International Space Station consists of citizen of Russia, the United States, and Japan.