Six men from Russia, Europe and China are preparing to spend 520 days together in a sealed-off warren to take a simulated trip to Mars to test how long-isolation would affect humans.


The volunteers will be locked up in a set of cramped compartments as the Mars500 simulated flight to the Red Planet gets under way in Russia.


Allowed just three square meters of “personal space” each, the “astronauts” will follow a seven-day week, with two days off, except when situations are simulated.


The crew, to be led by a Russian, will live and work like ISS astronauts, and their life will resemble that of station members: maintenance, scientific experiments and daily exercise.


Communication with Earth will be only via e-mail, with connections occasionally disrupted, including a realistic 40-minute delay.