Volunteers emerge from 520-day 'Mars voyage' isolation
Six volunteers from a multi-national crew on Friday stepped out of an isolation module in Moscow after almost one-and-a-half years locked away from the outside world to simulate the effects of a return voyage to Mars.
A researcher broke the seal and then opened the door of the capsule and all six crew members, dressed in blue overalls, walked out one-by-one in good health to cheers from scientists and family who had gathered.
"The international crew has completed the 520 day mission," commander Alexei Sityov, one of three Russian participants in the experiment, told Russia's space bosses in formal military style after exiting the capsule.
"The programme has been fully carried out. All the crew members are in good health. We are now ready for further tests," he added in comments broadcast by Russian television and the European Space Agency.
Italian crewmember Diego Urbina, who clenched his fists with delight as he finally stepped out of the capsule, said it had been an honour to have been involved in the programme.
He said he hoped that the experiment would help "humankind one day greet new dreams" on the Red Planet.
Chinese participant Wang Yue put it simply: "After 520 days, we are finally back."
The all male crew appeared in good form and happy despite being locked away in the module for 18 months after the hatch closed on June 3, 2010.
The six only gave brief comments and after just minutes were ushered away by researchers from Moscow Institute of Biomedical Problems (IMBP) for several days of medical tests. They are next due to appear in public for a news conference on Tuesday.
© 2011 AFP