MOSCOW, May 23. /TASS/. Russian cosmonaut Yevgeny Tarelkin will head a six-people crew of a four-month Russian-US experiment to simulate long spaceflights, Department Head of the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems Mark Belakovsky told TASS on Wednesday.
SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In Unique Terrestrial Station) - is a series of joint isolation experiments by Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems and US NASA to study psychology and working capacity of human beings in long space flights, primarily to the Deep Space Gateway lunar orbiter. Participants of the experiment are to spend between 17 days and one year in total isolation.
"Yevgeny Tarelkin is an experienced cosmonaut and a wonderful engineer. He gave his consent to take part in the four-month SIRIUS experiment and to become the commander of the mission," Belakovsky said.
Tarelkin was born in 1974. In October 2012 - March 2013, he spent 143 days 16 hours and 15 minutes aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Bids from participants
Belakovsky said that as of today, 48 people have submitted their bids to take part in the experiment. Eight of them are employees of Russia’s Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, about 10 - of the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems.
The international crew of SIRIUS will have an equal male-female representation at best, or two women at least.
"We opted against selecting participants in an open contest. First of all, we want to select highly professional specialists from the space industry, such as the Cosmonaut Training Center and RSC Energia. The Russian side insists that the participants of the experiment should be aged between 25 and 55 years, but NASA wants to lower the age threshold to 30 years," the Russian scientist said.
So far, no agreement was reached on how many candidates from NASA will take part. The US side is now searching for volunteers, including candidates from other states. "Besides, bids have been received from candidates representing France, India, Belarus and Japan," Belakovsky said.
"Moreover, NASA believes that candidates that have little experience should also take part in the project to see how they react to such an aggressive environment. But this issue is being discussed, and we are looking for balance. The Russian side believes that participation of totally inexperienced people will put the safety of the experiment into question," he added.
In total, between 12 and 14 participants will be selected. Six of them will comprise the main crew of the four-month isolation experiment, the backup crew will later take part in the eight-month experiment.
"We want to determine the make-up of the crew by September 15. A medical commission will convene shortly after, and then a mandate commission will select 12-14 participants who will be trained for the project. By October, we will select from six to eight people who will undergo specific training," the Russian scientist said.
A two-week trial run "with doors half-open" will be held in late November to help participants familiarize themselves with the facility, where the experiment will be conducted.
"The experiment itself is planned to begin in late January - early February next year," Belakovsky said.
The first in the series of joint Russian-US experiments called SIRIUS was held in November 2017 and lasted 17 days. The crew comprised representative of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation Mark Serov, test cosmonaut of the Cosmonaut Training Center Anna Kikina, Airbus representative Viktor Fetter (Germany) and three IMBP employees: Ilya Rukavishnikov (the crew’s doctor), Yelena Luchitskaya and Natalya Lysova. The crew conducted over 60 various experiments.
The IMBP’s short-term plans envisage holding a four-month isolation experiment scheduled to begin in late January 2019. The research will be conducted on the Institute’s premises. Similar experiments, lasting eight and twelve months will take place later, but their date and venue is yet to be determined.
As specialists say, during the four-month isolation experiment the crew will practice a flight to the Moon. The mission's main goal will be to choose an area for the future construction of a base on the Earth’s satellite.
During the first stage, the crew will travel to the Moon, reach its orbit and dock with an orbital station (similar to the Deep Space Gateway project). For two months, participants of the project will observe the surface to choose a landing spot. They are also expected to carry out several dockings with transport ships.
The next stage envisages a landing on the Moon and several walks on its surface in spacesuits. After that, the cosmonauts will return to the orbiter and make a flyover before returning back to the Earth.