520 day mission to Mars begins. Piece of string identified as key component.
The Mars 500 Mission has "Blasted Off", though the astronauts are really going nowhere. The mission will simulate a return voyage to Mars, with the 6 person crew sealed inside cramped compartments in a Moscow suburb. The idea is to examine the pressures likely to be faced by real astronauts, who will spend years away from earth should we ever get to the point of sending an actual crewed ship to Mars. The astronauts trooped on board this morning and the door was ceremoniously closed, though I couldn't help notice that the door was "sealed" with a tatty looking bit of string - trust the Russians to keep things cheap and cheerful, but then if I was going to Mars, I'd be far happier travelling in a Russian built ship than the incredibly complex machines the American's favour. You can watch the "launch" video on the Guardian website.