On June 2, 2010, the BBC reported that six Russian cosmonauts-in-training were beginning a project called Mars500, which the scientists say will help them to understand how humans would cope on a long journey to another world, such as a trip to Mars.
The cosmonauts had just entered a sealed facility at a medical institute in Moscow, where they would spend 18 months with no windows and only email contact with the outside world.
“Psychological factors are crucial to the success of any space mission,” one researcher said. How conflicts will be resolved in such close quarters where there is no escape from one another—these things must be worked out very carefully.
Buckminster Fuller used the term “spaceship earth” in the title of his 1968 book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. He refers to “our little Spaceship Earth,” which after all is “only 8,000 miles in diameter,” while “our nearest star—our energy-supplying mother-ship, the Sun—is 92 million miles away, and the next nearest star is one hundred thousand times further away.” Fuller wanted us to think of Earth like the Mars500 sealed facility in Moscow. 8,000 miles in diameter really doesn’t provide much of an escape from each other. Psychological factors and resolving conflict are crucial to the success of any mission.
Do we need to learn how to get to Mars in order to learn how to keep on making it here on Spaceship Earth?