The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected my friend and MDRS Crew-88 colleague Diego Urbina as one of two European crew members for the Mars500 simulation. Diego is 26 years old, has both Italian and Colombian citizenship and has a wide range of experiences working in the space field. He was an Attitude and Control Systems engineer for the Aramis nanosatellite at the Polytechnico di Torini, an operations and astronaut training intern at ESA’s Neutral Buoyancy Facility in Cologne, was a member of the Image Reversal in Space (IRIS) experiment that eventually flew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and most recently was Crew Biologist for Crew-88 at the Mars Desert Research Station. Diego has a BS and an MS in Electronics Engineering from the Polytechnico di Torino, in Turin Italy and an MS in Space Studies from the International Space University, in Strasbourg, France.
The second ESA crew member is Romain Charles. He is 31 years old and is a Quality Manager for Sotira, a company producing composite panels. His previous experience includes Quality Engineering roles within the company for McLaren, Aston Martin and Tesla Motors. Romain is a citizen of France and resides in Saint Malo, France. He has a MS in Engineering from the French Institute of Advanced Mechanics.
Congratulations Diego and Romain on your selection to the “prime crew” for the Mars500 simulation!
In addition to Diego and Romain, the Mars500 crew will consist of two Russians and one Chinese to be announced shortly. The crew is expected to begin the 520 day simulation next month (June).
The Simulation Chamber at the IBMP
The Mars500 is a joint experiment between the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) and the European Space Agency and is a 520 day simulated mission to Mars. The sealed mockup includes an interplanetary spaceship, a Mars lander and a martian landscape to simulate extra-vehicular and surface simulations. The facility is housed in Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. The entire complex is approximately 550 cubic meters and consists of several habitation modules. The crew will live and work like ISS astronauts in that they will follow a seven day work week with two days off (except when special and emergency situations are simulated) and will conduct scientific experiments, maintenance and a daily routine of exercise. The food and supplies for the entire 520 day simulation will be stored within the chamber and the crew will have to manage their consumptions throughout the mission. Communications will only be via email and will have a forty minute delay, as on a real Mars mission. During Mars surface operations the crew will be divided into two groups of three people each. Once the first group exits to the Martian surface, the hatch between the Martian simulation module and the rest of the facility will be closed by the second group and only be opened again when the Mars surface stay simulation has ended.
Diego training on a modified Orlan Spacesuit
The purpose of the Mars500 simulation is to gather data, knowledge and experience to help prepare one day for a real mission to Mars. The study will help determine key psychological and physiological effects of being in such an enclosed environment for such an extended period of time. Best wishes Diego and Romain for a very successful mission.
The Russian and European candidates during survival training
Photo: IBMP/Oleg Voloshin