That mission, the first in the CHAPEA (

NASA's 1st year-long mock Mars mission wraps up in Houston

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2024-07-08 12:30:03

That mission, the first in the CHAPEA ("Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog") series, began on June 25, 2003, when four volunteers were sealed inside a simulated Mars habitat at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. 

The four volunteers for the CHAPEA-1 mission were Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell and Nathan Jones. Their home for the past year-plus was Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot (158 square meters) 3D-printed habitat designed to feel like an isolated Red Planet outpost.

The quartet's experiences in Mars Dune Alpha will inform NASA's planning for real-life crewed missions to the Red Planet, which the agency aims to start launching in the late 2030s or early 2040s.

"For more than a year, the crew simulated Mars mission operations, including 'Marswalks,' grew and harvested several vegetables to supplement their shelf-stable food, maintained their equipment and habitat and operated under additional stressors a Mars crew will experience, including communication delays with Earth, resource limitations and isolation," NASA officials wrote in a CHAPEA-1 mission description.

"CHAPEA-1 has been a unique experience, with great challenges, joys and sorrows and a lot of hard work, with a fair bit of fun thrown in as well," Haston, who commanded the mission, said during the livestreamed event.

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