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back to article Wooden spaceship descends into Moscow sandpit

Joyous news from the European Space Agency today, which reports that it has successfully landed three astronauts on Mars. Sadly this is only simulated Mars: the three spacesuited pioneers are at present exploring a large indoor sandpit, having spent the previous eight months inside a wood-panelled simulator pretending they were …

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Anonymous Coward

Martians

Those Martians in the background don't look realistic at all. None of them is green and one isn't even little.

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Nothing to look forward to?

"...another monotonous ‘interplanetary cruise’ without a highlight like the Mars landing to look forward to."

Assuming the three guys aren't gay and keen on each other, sex (with someone else) might be something they would be missing after several months.

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Paris Hilton

Money for Nuthin', Chicks for Free...

The "fake" crew will be media darlings for a few weeks. The "real" crew will have it made just like in the Dire Straits song...

Paris, 'cause you just know she's gonna have one, two, or all of them...

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WTF?

Most of the population can survive this trip....

....as long as they have been married for more then 5 years, 20 months in virtual solitude would be like heaven. Where do I sign up?

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Anonymous Coward

yep...

Plenty of us in long term "relationships" are well practised in coping with months or more of enforced chastity...

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Jefferson Airplane

Let's hope they're young enough not to know 'Wooden Ships' by JA. They might find the bit where the narrators who are sailing away in the wooden ships look back at the people they left behind a little depressing:

Horror grips us as we watch you die,

All we can do is echo your anguished cries,

Stare as all human feelings die,

We are leaving,

You don't need us.

Maybe ESA should consider making the spaceship out of something other than wood.

Unfortunately there is no 'old hippy' icon...

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Thumb Up

Only 21 years behind the Americans

The good ole US of A faked their landings years ago ;)

And they even got Kubrick to film it!

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Thumb Up

Only 31 years behind the Americans

That should be 31 years

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FAIL

Try again...

That would in fact be 41 years (and a half)

The first moon landing being in 1969 and all that.

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Wooden Ships

On the sandpit, very free and easy.

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Illusion shattered.

If they really want to study what effect this length of isolation would have on humans, they should have had the observers behind one way glass. If you've ever been truly alone for any length of time, you'll know how good it feels to see a human face, even if you don't get a chance to say hi.

Muppets.

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Silver badge
WTF?

The required title, which contains letters and/or digits.

Not to mention the saying "oh, you can leave at any time" thing. The whole thing has been an exersize in sillyness.

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FAIL

Space Dementia

As a psychological experiment this seems a bit pointless. Perhaps if they built in a small but real probability of the whole thing exploding catastrophically or the possibility of the crew being exposed to lethal levels of radiation then they might have a chance of recreating the likely state of mind of real astronauts. As it stands, the biggest danger to the crew is splinters.

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Yes, splinters.

Radioactive, exploding splinters.

Actually to me this looks pretty much like the middle-aged-man's refuge, the garden shed. All it needs is a few discarded tools, some plant seeds that won't actually grow and a pile of magazines on disparate subjects and it is pretty much home from home. Possibly the team psychologists are a lot more canny than people give them credit for. Or they are henpecked.

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Gold badge

More realistic

Elsewhere another website asks what can make it more realistic. Unfortunately the comments part of this other site stopped working when someone fiddled with it, so no one can answer but...

Tell them that there has been a small nuclear leak nearby. Unfortunately that means that although they will only receive a low dosage of radiation, nobody can get to test site if there is a medical emergency, and it will take a few months to get it cleaned up enough to rescue them. However on the plus side, it seems that all of the communication and control systems are still working, so the experiment can continue...

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Silver badge
Go

Easier

Have a random event generator and suitable safe consequences substituted for the lethal ones might improve realism a bit. For example, that at the end of your ordeal there is a small but real chance you won't get paid, or will have to spend a year in a simulated hospital room might tweak the psychology in the right direction.

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Cue a million paranoid "enthusiasts"

Claiming this is how they did the moon landings......

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Bronze badge

Dave, I cannot open the Sauna Door.....it's against my programming.

Looks to me like just another "close quarters isolation" experiment to me.

Why don't they do these at the South Pole where they would REALLY be isolated, cold, and starved for affection instead of being in a glorified sauna knowing that if anything truly bad happened, they would just open the door to the sauna.

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Or...

Why not do it in orbit around the Earth?

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Silver badge

'isolated, cold, and starved for affection'

Sounds like boarding school.

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"Mocknik" moment

It's a sad day when the American fake space program has fallen so far behind the Russian fake space program. If people think we had the technology to fake multiple Moon landings, why couldn't we be the ones televising a fake Mars landing? Using American know-how, we could even do it as a "reality show". Start off with a 150 "astronauts and vote on who to push out the airlock each week. I call upon Obama to authorize whatever it takes for America to fake a Mars landing by 2014.

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Headmaster

It's one of those sad days

where one realizes for the umpteenth time that in the US the ability to read is lagging way behind people's nationalism.

It's an European program fake space program, and it'd better get through to you Yanks that there's also the Japanese fake space program getting ready for the big screen, the Chinese fake space program, and the Indian fake space program (easily recognized from the singing and dancing scenes, and the almost-see-through silk spacesuits). The Copenhagen Suborbitals has some way to go still, but they can pocket a lot of sponsor money if they have scantily-clad blonde vixens emerging from the drainpipes they've pretended launching.

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Alien

hear hear

I say the Copenhagen Suborbitals and the Indian Fake Space Program co-operate and launch a joint mission.

That way we get scantily clad blonde vixens in near see-through silk spacesuits - nobody will care if they land on Mars or Universal Studios.

Either that or all of the teams play volleyball to determine who gets to fake the landing first.

I'll get my coat...

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Coat

Life on Mars

A human visit to Mars means giving up the search for indigenous life on Mars: "Then the crew will load all their rubbish into the "lander" and shut the door on it: the ESA says that it would then be discarded on a real flight."

With all that human waste and contamination, then yes we will find life on Mars, and by gum, it will look like us (or our bacteria).

Staggers me that we would even consider sending humans to Mars.

I search in my coat pocket for an apparently diminishing supply of common sense.

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Silver badge
Boffin

Likely already there.

Even without lax sterilisation on recent unmanned probes, Earth and Mars have been swapping bits of rock with eachother forever. So chances are we (as in Earth-life) are already there.

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Bronze badge

Read again

This is the Lander - it doesn't stay on Mars, nor does it return there. Like the Lunar Module, it will be abandoned in orbit.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Useless

As long as the subjects know it's a simulation, their response is not predictive.

If they don't know it's a simulation, the experiment is not ethical.

Therefore the only way to really know is to do it for real.

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Silver badge

Bah!

I cannot, in all conscience, support the idea of a spaceship furnished by IKEA.

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Silver badge

IKEA?

Why not? It's cheap, reasonably comfy, and most of the stuff does last the two years this mission is going to take (although you may occasionally need to re-tighten the screws, which would be a welcome break in the monotony of the trip).

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Anonymous Coward

awwww

they even made them a replica, wooden, washing machine....

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Silver badge

Attention to safety

Is what makes space programs possible - they even added a handle on the inside of the washing machine's door so that the cosmonauts could not by chance lock themselves in!

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Black Helicopters

sand pit!?

that's what they want you to believe! they've actually got to Mars!

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Pint

Good for them

Yeah it isn't as realistic as the real thing, but it's a good attempt at reproducing the biggest unknown factor of such a mission - the impact of umpteen months of boredom followed by a few days' relative excitement, then another round of boredom : ie can people really cope with it?

I think they deserve one.

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Joke

20 minutes latency?

Can't they just call BT customer services?

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Anonymous Coward

What?

And have it increased to 30 minutes along with 'targeted' ads and traffic shaping?

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Life imitating art

I wonder if they got the idea by reading Omon Ra by Vicotr Pelevin.

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Silver badge
Go

You blew it up!

Perfect - 8 months left for everyone in the team to have a monkey suit made for the rest of the team. The opportunity passed us by to pretend the world had gone Planet Of The Apes when they got the Chilean miners out. For all that's holy, let's not have this moment pass us by again!

Could be the greatest practical joke since the moon landings and/or Elvis's death! Let's get planning...

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Anonymous Coward

Exclusive

An exclusive transcript here only reports that their first words upon setting foot on the Mars surface was "wow, it feels just like home!".

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Space Cadets

Channel 4 could use that set for a 2nd series of Sapce Cadets.

I know it's cruel to poke fun at the ignorant, blinded by the wrong type of stardom. But it's bloody entertaining!

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WTF?

... and about 500 Years behind the Europeans

Surely, similar conditions would have been experienced by the first Merchant Adventurers such as Columbus and Cabot in their early voyages. I believe the "Matthew" was loaded with sufficient stores for a voyage of at least 6-8mths, although the actual crossing was less than 8 weeks.

I doubt very much they staged simulations before setting off on such an unknown voyage. Just as well Health & Safety wasn't such an issue back then, America and the New Found Land might never have been discovered!!

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Silver badge
Boffin

Slight difference

At sea, they would have had access to fresh air, sunlight and a chance of surviving even if the ship went down. The majority of the crew would have likely spent their life at sea as well, so was hardly a change of scene or routine for them. Claustrophobia doesn't really occur when you've got access to a window that opens, or a deck.

Plenty of people went insane though, but they'd have been chucked in the brig, or overboard.

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Grenade

America and the New Found Land might never have been discovered!

...and the problem with that would have been..?

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Hmmm...

Presumably you could plant some memories of being trained to go to Mars in the "astronauts" to convince them that it was real, but then one of them might realise he actually had been to Mars and it's all a setup, and he has to get to Mars and kill the bad guy and turn on the atmosphere generators left by an ancient alien civilisation.

Yup.

I'll be watching that tonight then.

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Yeah, you won't be laughing

when they pop the wooden door open to find the one live astronaut gnawing on the heart of one of his comrades.

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Stop

Loose Ends

And what is that frayed wire dangling from the ceiling (oops sorry no ups and downs in space) above the happy astronaut? There is a serious risk that, in the weightless conditions of space, the astronaut could accidentally float into it.

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Day 8 in the Big Brother Ship

Will Davina be waiting for them on Mars or will she stay at this end for the evictions?

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Go

X months in space...

Nothing (much) to do except lay around ADMIRING your fellow Astronauts and Atronautettes.....

I hope the tin of rocket engine bearing grease is rather huge - it has to last for a LONG time...

Eternity in fact.

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