Mars, Bitches!

If I wasn’t so damn claustrophobic (and American) I’d totally do this:

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Tuesday called for applications for one of the most demanding human experiments in space history: a simulated trip to Mars in which six “astronauts” will spend 17 months in an isolation tank on Earth.

Their spaceship will comprise a series of interlocked modules in an research institute in Moscow, and once the doors are closed tight, the volunteers will be cut off from all contact with the outside world except by a delayed radio link.

They will face simulated emergencies, daily work routines and experiments, as well as boredom and, no doubt, personal friction from confinement in just 550 cubic metres (19,250 cubic feet), the equivalent of nine truck containers.

I love the part where they talk about how you’d “only” get paid $158 per day. Gosh, that’s “only” more than $76,000 at the end of the experiment. Not bad for simply surviving while remaining non-homicidal.

Course, since I got twitchy and nervous just reading about it, I’m right out. My claustrophobia’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. It used to be just very large crowds (IKEA does not get visited except at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays) and very VERY tight spaces that would set me off, but I’m now at the point where elevators make me jittery. It’s not so much the actual size of the space enclosed, it’s the loss of control that comes from the sense of being trapped. All of which intellectually I know, but emotionally, I just want to chew my way right through the side of the box and get out.

So no space trial-run for me.


9 thoughts on “Mars, Bitches!

  1. My first thought was that as long as I could chose those I would be in that prison with, it would be fine. Then I realized that I would want to chose friends, and that would absolutely kill any friendship forever. Also, if that crew is both male and female, emotional attachments are sure to develop, unless they are all at least temporarily chemically neutered. Such attachments would lead to problems, to say the least. But, if they are all male, no problems – oops, I forgot about Breakback Mountain syndrome. So, I have reluctantly decided to withhold my volunteering for that mission. Sorry.

  2. I would like to volunteer Bush and Big Time for this important experiment. Is that possible?

    And I’ll just say, I understand where A is coming from with the claustrophobia. My wife is very sensitive about closed spaces, and dislikes elevators and will panic if a surge of people fill the elevator at the last minute. She will plough through them like a fullback if “too many” crowd in and she becomes antsy. Glass elevators are ok, though.
    We met on a blind date and one of the first things she asked me was “Are you going to put me in a box?” I’m like, “Whaa?!”
    I still can’t believe I didn’t run for the hills at that point.

  3. Right with ya, A. For me, the real problem is crowds–if I have to have people touching me because it’s so crowded, the heart starts pounding. I never realized how bad it was till I let my friends talk me into New Year’s Eve in Trafalgar Square. I systematically shredded and crushed a roll of Tums in my pocket while trying desperately not to dive over the crowd fence into the arms of a bobby. I thought I was going to die before we got out of there–two hours of sheer hell.
    And I totally understand the loss of control issue–I have the same problem with air travel. Seeing the cockpit doesn’t help. If I’m not the one at the controls, cold sweat city. It’s manageable, but not fun.
    As for the experiment, if I had internet access, I think I’d be okay. But without access to y’all, I’d go bonkers in a week.

  4. Athenae better ask if they’d pipe in Packer games, and Badger Hockey, etc. before she signs up.

  5. Folks,
    17 months is only a few months less than the longest publicized US submarine voyage completely sumberged. As described in “Blind Man’s Bluff,” The USS Parche, on a special operation in the late 1980’s, traveled submerged from Mare Island, California around the Southernmost Tip of South America, up to the Barents Sea, performed their operation in Russia’s front yard, then went back to Mare Island the way they left.
    A typical submarine voyage (speaking as a sub qualified navy vet) consists of real and simulated emergencies, daily work routines and experiments, as well as boredom and personal friction from confinement of over 100 people living in a tube 32 ft diameter by 300 feet long also packed with a nuclear reactor and numerous other types of machinery. If you need a comparison, that’s a lot smaller than nine truck containers, and there isn’t a whole lot of free space after all the machinery is packed in. Not to mention food and supplies. And the most junior people on a nuclear sub earn about 28,000/yr.
    Color me NOT IMPRESSED with this proposed experiment. As for billing this as “one of the most demanding human experiments in space history,” any sailor could handle it.

  6. Aw, Ron, you just took the fun right out of it.
    But wait! It’s in RUSSIA! That’s gotta count for something, right?

  7. more people on a sub. are there windows? heck, i’ll pass if i can’t have fresh air. as my sweetie said. i am a princess. i a adaptable, but i want a good shower and good food.

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