Mixed gender crews on interplanetary missions? Russian scientists say yes

MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Women must be part of lunar and deep space missions, Director of the Institute of Biomedical Problems at the Russian Academy of Sciences Oleg Orlov told reporters.

“From the standpoint of interplanetary flights, mixed gender crews are under consideration. Definitely,” he said.

According to the Institute’s director, while implementing the SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In Unique Terrestrial Station) program, researchers are looking for ways to put together mixed gender crews. “We are studying the possibility of forming mixed gender teams since the matter concerns psychology, social relations, performance and so forth. This is what we are working on,” Orlov noted.

The project’s chief manager, Institute of Biomedical Problems Deputy Director Mark Belakovsky said that on January 9-10, a commission of doctors and experts would choose ten people who would start training on January 14. “There will be a crew of six. Together with us, the Americans have a common approach, there should be no less than two females, still three would be better,” he said.

The SIRIUS four-month isolation experiment will kick off on March 1, 2019. It will simulate a mission to the moon, consisting of a flight to the Earth’s natural satellite, circling the moon, searching for a place to land, landing four crewmembers tasked to carry out certain operations on the surface, staying in orbit and remotely using a moon rover in order to prepare for setting up a base.

Only four women have traveled to orbit in the history of Soviet and Russian space science: Valentina Tereshnkova, Svetlana Savitskaya, Yelena Kondakova and Yelena Serova. The current cosmonaut team includes only one female member, Anna Kikina.