All-female Russian crew starts Moon mission

2015-10-28 16:29
The Saturn V rocket that launched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their Apollo 11 moon mission. (Nasa, AP)

The Saturn V rocket that launched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins on their Apollo 11 moon mission. (Nasa, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Moscow - Six Russian women on Wednesday clambered into a mock spaceship to begin a unique experiment testing how an all-female crew would interact on a trip to the Moon and back.

For eight days, the female volunteers will live inside a wood-panelled suite of rooms at Moscow's Institute of Biomedical Problems, renowned for its wacky research into the psychological and physical effects of space travel.

The institute in 2010 locked six male international volunteers in an isolation experiment lasting 520 days, to simulate a flight to Mars and back.

"Such a crew is taking part for the first time in a simulation experiment. It's interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates," said Sergei Ponomaryov, the experiment's supervisor.

"It will be particularly interesting in terms of psychology," said the institute's director Igor Ushakov.

"I'd like to wish you a lack of conflicts, even though they say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together," he added.

The volunteers include scientific researchers, a doctor and a psychologist.

The test period simulates a flight to the Moon and back, with the women carrying out 10 experiments covering psychology and human biology.

Valentina Tereshkova

Russia sent the first woman into space, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963 but has lagged behind since. Last year it sent its fourth female cosmonaut into space, Yelena Serova.

Serova complained of a flurry of media interest in how she would wash her hair aboard the International Space Station, pointing out that male cosmonauts did not face the same line of questioning.

Ponomaryov called the latest experiment an effort to make up for lost time.

"There's never been an all-female crew on the ISS. We consider the future of space belongs equally to men and women and unfortunately we need to catch up a bit after a period when unfortunately there haven't been too many women in space."

Despite the mission being presented as a giant step for gender equality, the women - who wore red jumpsuits - found themselves fielding questions at a press conference about how they would cope without men or make-up for eight days.

"We are very beautiful without make-up," parried participant Darya Komissarova.

Wet wipes

Her colleague Anna Kussmaul was more direct: "We are doing work. When you're doing your work, you don't think about men and women."

Like their counterparts on theInternational Space Station the women will have no shower, washing with wet wipes instead.

They plan to spend their 1 1/2 hours per day of free time watching films, reading and playing board games.

Team leader Yelena Luchnitskaya said she expected the women to deal with any conflict.

"I'm sure we all have the education, personal qualities and the upbringing, at the end of the day," she said.

"So far I can't imagine what would rattle us."


Read more on:    russia  |  space  |  research  |  gender

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.