Russia has initiated another phase of its Scientific International Research In Unique terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) project, marking the beginning of the SIRIUS-23 mission. In this mission, a six-person crew will undergo a 360-day isolation period to simulate the conditions of a deep space journey.
SIRIUS-23 is conducted under the supervision of the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP), a renowned institution under the Russian Academy of Sciences. The IBMP, celebrating 60 years of research, focuses on investigating issues related to long-term human space exploration.
This mission represents the fourth stage of the IBMP’s earlier isolation experiments, with SIRIUS-17 (17 days in 2017) and SIRIUS-19 (120 days in 2019). The third stage, SIRIUS-23, occurred in 2021 and lasted 240 days.
The crew for SIRIUS-23 entered their isolation facility on November 14. Their mission involves simulating a lunar journey, including a moon flyby to select a landing site, multiple simulated landings for surface operations involving four crew members, orbiting the moon, and tele-operating a rover on the lunar surface.
One notable aspect of the SIRIUS-23 mission is the composition of the crew, which includes a mix of genders and features more women than men. This represents a departure from previous simulations, and all crew members are Russian speakers, eliminating the need for English language proficiency.
Anastasia Stepanova, a PhD student in space resources at the Colorado School of Mines, who has previously participated in space simulation missions, attended the event in Moscow. She highlighted the unique aspects of the SIRIUS-23 mission, including NASA’s absence as a partner and the crew’s Russian-speaking composition.
The crew members expressed excitement about embarking on their lunar journey but also noted the challenges of a year-long isolation filled with numerous biomedical experiments.
During the mission, researchers will conduct extensive psychophysiological studies to assess the crew’s responses to various technical malfunctions that could pose threats to life and health. Additionally, the mission will examine issues related to intra-group interaction and leadership dynamics, particularly in a mixed-gender crew. The crew will also tackle challenges associated with long-term extravehicular activity, physical exertion, and night work.
The SIRIUS-23 mission represents another step in Russia’s ongoing efforts to advance space exploration through simulated missions and scientific research.