Last year, SIIRIUS-23 crew members enterr isolation facility to mimic deep space exploration.
Image credit: Roscosmos/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The six crew members of a year-long space voyage passed their half-way point on May 14, isolated for scientific and psychological study under Russia’s Scientific International Research In Unique terrestrial Station (SIRIUS) project.

Using a unique scientific facility, life support systems, space activities, medical controls and prevention, crew performance and dynamics can be assessed, as well as crew autonomy and associated physiological and psychological stress.

Simulated space ship is at the core of the SIRIUS-23 mission in a 360-day isolation experiment.
Image credit: IBMP

Stay-at-home interplanetary journey

Undergoing their 360-day “flight” of isolation, they are imitating flight conditions of an interplanetary journey. The SIRIUS-23 crew entered their home-away-from-home isolation facility on November 14, 2023.

SIRIUS-23 is being carried out under the auspices of the legendary Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) under the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Image credit: SSC/IBMP/RAS

This current initiative is another step of IBMP isolation experiments: SIRIUS-17 (17 days in 2017); SIRIUS-19 (120 days in 2019), with the stage-3 SIRIUS-23 mission taking place in 2021 and lasting 240 days.


The main goal of the SIRIUS-23 experiment is to study adaptation of the human body to isolation in a hermetic facility with the artificial habitat simulating a human space flight.

Also being evaluated is gauging means of preventing the negative effects of isolation, as well as minimizing the risks to crew undertaking long-term interplanetary flights.

On the IBMP agenda for the crew is appraising the behavioral aspects of a person’s stay in conditions of long-term autonomous stay in space, taking into account limited space within a spacecraft, limited resources and possible communication delays.

Image credit: SSC/IBMP/RAS

IBMP is investigating actions of the crew in the event of various types of technical malfunctions, say an accident with serious consequences that might pose a threat to the health and life of crew members.

Furthermore, IBMP is looking into problems of intragroup interaction, leadership in a cross-cultural crew with different gender composition.


Over the course of 180 days, the SIRIUS-23 team saw the arrival of two transport ships to their “orbital station” on December 15, 2023 and March 7, 2024. During the unloading of the supply ships, studies were conducted on the effect of 36-hour sleep deprivation on the psychological state of the crew.

Image credit: SSC/IBMP/RAS

Two cycles of crew separation and spacewalks (EVA) were carried out (January 15–19 and March 18–22, 2024).

A Moon mission simulation includes a flyby to search for a landing site, multiple landings of four crew members for surface operations, orbiting the Moon, and remote control of a rover on the surface.

During these periods, the expedition’s landing detachment, consisting of four crew members, utilized a lunar takeoff and landing module. A “Planetary Surface” module was also used.

In each of the two cycles, two EVAs were performed per day for three days, in pairs. The simulated extravehicular activities involve virtual reality systems and simulation of lunar gravity (the “Constellation-Sirius” experiment). All in all, a dozen surface exits were carried out.

Image credit: SSC/IBMP/RAS

Neurocognitive games

IBMP experiments on the isolated crew is based on the principle of repeatability of cycles. There are daily measurements of intra-ear temperature, stress control, filling out a questionnaire at each meal, etc. A number of experiments aimed at assessing the microflora of humans and the environment have been successfully carried out.

On a weekly basis, neurocognitive games are played by the crew and recording EEG recordings at rest are taken.

Most physiological and psycho-physiological examinations are done on a monthly time period.

Image credit: SSC/IBMP/RAS

Flight cyclogram

According to IBMP officials, the year of isolation is divided into three four-month cycles, each of which includes a repeating set of experimental tasks and techniques. At the end of each cycle, a series of standardized studies and tests are carried out, the results of which make it possible to provide a comprehensive assessment of the state of the physiological systems of the crew members’ bodies during a given period of time.

“All crew members have maintained health and high performance,” explains the IBMP. “The scientific research program is being carried out in full and in strict accordance with the ‘flight’ cyclogram.”

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