Astronauts Break Record for Longest 'Space' Mission

...without actually leaving the planet
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2011 12:25 PM CDT
Mars500 Crew Breaks Record for Longest 'Space' Mission Without Leaving the Planet
Members of the Mars500 crew Alexey Sitev of Russia clasp hands before being locked into the Mars500 isolation facility in Moscow on June 3, 2010.   (Getty Images)

A crew of cosmonauts has broken the record for longest space mission, having spent 438 days in a 12-foot-wide capsule. But they'll also break another record when their mission is up—the record for shortest distance traveled on a space mission—because they've never actually left Moscow in all that time. The Mars500 crew has 82 days left of a 520-day simulated mission to Mars, meant to test the psychological and physical impact of a long-distance space flight. The record for actual time in space is 437 days, set in 2005 by Valeri Polyakov, the Daily Mail reports.

The crew has been in isolation in a Moscow parking lot in a windowless capsule measuring 550 cubic meters, constantly monitored by behavioral specialists. Three of the astronauts left halfway through the mission to simulate the two days spent researching Mars, then re-boarded, but no one has abandoned the mission though they are all free to. They have had limited contact with friends and family via emails and video messages; they eat canned food and "shower" in a sauna-like room just once a week; and they sleep in tiny pods with cot-like beds in living quarters around the size of a bus. Click for more on the mission. (Read more astronauts stories.)

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