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The of Mars-500 crew emerging from base. IBMP\O.Voloshin
OrganisationInstitute of Biomedical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences
First mission date15 November 2007
Crew size6
Operational history
Days occupied640 days
Total crew18
Technical data
Internal volume550m3
Technical equipment
  • Sealed atmosphere habitat
  • Telemedicine suite
  • Greenhouse room
  • Sauna and gym
Scientific equipment
  • Air monitoring system
  • Medical examination suite
EVA environment
  • Dedicated Mars landing module
  • Indoor Mars surface module

The MARS-500 mission was a psychosocial isolation experiment conducted between 2007 and 2011 by Russia, the European Space Agency, and China, in preparation for an unspecified future crewed spaceflight to the planet Mars. The experiment's facility was located at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow, Russia.

Between 2007 and 2011, three different crews of volunteers lived and worked in a mock-up spacecraft at IBMP. The final stage of the experiment, which was intended to simulate a 520-day crewed mission, was conducted by an all-male crew consisting of three Russians (Alexey Sitev, Sukhrob Kamolov, Alexander Smoleevskij), a Frenchman (Romain Charles), an Italian (Diego Urbina), and a Chinese citizen (Yue Wang). The mock-up facility simulated an Earth-Mars shuttle spacecraft, an ascent-descent craft, and the Martian surface. The volunteers who participated in the three stages included professionals with experience in engineering, medicine, biology, and human spaceflight. The experiment yielded important data on the physiological, social, and psychological effects of long-term, close-quarters isolation.


MARS-500 was intended to study the psychological, physiological, and technological challenges inherent to long-duration space flight. Among other hurdles to overcome, the experiment examined the physiological effects of long-term weightlessness, the effectiveness of resource management, and the effects of isolation in a hermetically sealed environment. MARS-500's communication systems were designed with an average delay of 13 min, to simulate the actual transmission time to and from a Mars-bound spacecraft.

Facility and equipment

The experiment facility was located on the Institute of Biomedical Problems' site in Moscow. The complex consisted of the isolation facility, the mission operations room, technical facilities, and offices. The isolation facility consisted of five different modules. Three – the habitat, utility, and medical modules – simulated the main spacecraft. The fourth module simulated the Martian lander and was connected to the main spacecraft. The fifth module was a simulator of the Martian surface, and is connected to the Martian lander. The combined volume of the modules was 550 m3.

The facility included all the necessary equipment for running the missions. These included communications and control systems, ventilation systems, air and water supplies, electrical installations, sewage systems, air- and water-quality monitoring and partial recycling systems, medical equipment, fire and other safety monitoring systems, and emergency equipment. The modules were maintained at Earth-normal barometric pressure.

Habitable module

The habitable module was the main living quarters for the crew. The cylindrical 3.6 m × 20 m module consisted of six individual crew compartments, a kitchen/dining room, a living room, the main control room, and a toilet. The individual bedroom compartments, which had an area around 3 m2 (32 sq ft) each, contained a bed, a desk, a chair, and shelves for personal belongings.

Medical module

The cylindrical medical module measured 3.2 m × 11.9 m and housed two medical berths, a toilet, and equipment for routine medical examinations. It also contained equipment for telemedical, laboratory, and diagnostic investigations. Had crew members become ill, they would have been isolated and treated in the module.

EVA systems and environment : Mars landing module simulator

The Mars landing module simulator was only used during the 30-day "Mars-orbiting" phase of the experiment. The 6.3 m × 6.17 m cylindrical module accommodated up to three crew members, and had three bunk beds, two workstations, and a toilet. Its ancillary systems included a control and data-collection system, a video control and communications system, a gas analysis system, an air-conditioning and ventilation system, a sewage system and water supply, and a fire-suppression system.

Storage module

The cylindrical 3.9 m × 24 m storage module was divided into four compartments:

  1. A refrigerated compartment for food storage
  2. A compartment for storage of nonperishable food
  3. An experimental greenhouse
  4. A compartment containing a bathroom, sauna, and gym

Scientific facilities

The scientific goals of MARS-500 included the study of potential habitat designs, with a particular focus on medical and psychological support for the crew (who would necessarily be confined in a relatively small spacecraft, with relatively limited medical facilities, for the 7- to 9-month journey to Mars).


In total, 640 experiment days were scheduled between 2007 and 2011, divided into three stages of differing length. During each mission, the crew of volunteers lived and worked in a mockup spacecraft. Communication with the outside world was limited, and was conducted with a realistic time delay of up to 25 minutes, to simulate the real-life communications lag between Mars and Earth. Similarly, a realistically limited supply of on-board consumables was provided for the volunteers. Some conditions, such as weightlessness and cosmic radiation, could not be simulated.

Mission 1 (first stage of the experiment)

NEK medical-technical facility. IMBP/RAS

The first 15-day stage of the MARS-500 experiment took place from 15 November 2007 to 27 November 2007.The purpose of this mission was to test the technical equipment, facilities, and operating procedures for the voyage.

Mission 2 (2nd stage of the experiment)

The second, 105-day mission of the experiment began on 31 March 2009, when six volunteers started living in the experiment's isolated living complex. On 14 July 2009, this stage of the experiment was completed.

Mission 3 (final stage)

The 520-day final mission of the experiment, which was intended to simulate a full-length crewed mission, began on 3 June 2010 and ended on 4 November 2011. This mission was conducted by a six-man international crew, consisting of three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian-Colombian, and a Chinese citizen. The stage included a simulation of a crewed Mars landing, with three simulated Mars EVAs carried out on 14, 18, and 22 February 2011. The mission ended on 4 November 2011, with all the participants reportedly in optimal physical and psychological condition.

In February 2013, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that four of the six crew members had considerable problems sleeping, and increased sleep and rest times, in behaviour compared to animal hibernation. Participants also experienced a disruption to their circadian rhythm during confinement.

Caption text
Mission Crew Start date Duration (days)
MARS-500, 1 Anton Artamonov (Russia)

Oleg Artemyev (Russia) Alexander Kovalev (Russia) Dmitry Perfilov (Russia) Sergey Ryazansky (Russia, commander) Marina Tugashev (Russia)

15 November 2007 15
MARS-500, 2 Oleg Artemyev (Russia)

Alexei Baranov (Russia) Cyrille Fournier (France) Oliver Knickel (Germany) Sergey Ryazansky (Russia, commander) Alexei Shpakov (Russia)

31 March 2009 105
MARS-500, 3 Romain Charles (France)

Sukhrob Kamolov (Russia) Alexey Sitev (Russia, commander) Alexander Smoleevskij (Russia) Diego Urbina (Italy) Yue Wang (China)

3 June 2010 520


Any technical specification you want to provide.

  • Habitable volume - 550m3 main habitat, 192m3 landing module
  • Total crewed missions - 3