With just months to go before the end of a Moscow-based simulated journey to Mars, the European Space Agency (ESA) head said on Wednesday a joint mission with Russia to the Red Planet was in the pipeline.
Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow on Wednesday, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia's Roskosmos space agency would "carry out the first flight to Mars together."
Dordain said it was too early to define a timeframe, but added that the Mars500 project was a factor in the preparation for a real mission to Mars. The 520-day simulated Mars500 project, run by Russia's Institute of Biomedical Problems with ESA's participation, aims to investigate just how well humans can cope with a return trip to the Red Planet. The six crew members are due "to return to Earth" in November.
Experts say a manned journey to Mars is still decades away because of the technological and financial challenges involved.