MOSCOW, July 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russian and foreign volunteers said on Tuesday they felt well after a 105-day experiment to simulate a flight to Mars at the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies in Moscow.
Four Russians - astronauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergei Ryazansky, oncologist Alexei Baranov, and sports physiologist Alexei Shpakov - along with two members of the European Space Agency, French civilian pilot Cyrille Fournier and German mechanical engineer Oliver Knickel, spent over three months in a lab that simulated life on board a spaceship.
Each participant was paid 15,500 euros ($20,000) and underwent a variety of physical, psychological and professional tests during the mission. The scientists also tested various life-support, communications and scientific equipment.
After leaving the compound, where they have been in total isolation since March 30, the volunteers formed a single file and reported a successful completion of the mission, saying they were in "perfect physical shape."
For the next two weeks they will visit the institute every two days for medical tests, a source at the institute said.
The 105-day trial was a continuation of a 14-day experiment on November 2007, and precedes the main event, a 520-day simulation flight due to start in late 2009-early 2010.
The future 520-day experiment will simulate all aspects of a journey to the Red Planet, with a 250-day outward trip, a 30-day stay on its surface, and a 240-day return flight.
During nearly two years of isolation, crew members will experience many of the conditions likely to be encountered by astronauts on a real space flight.
They will stick to a rigid daily regime of work, rest and exercise, and follow the same diet as crews aboard the International Space Station.