He continues: “It’s a bit like when you’re camping, as there is a scarcity of water and restrictions around showering. So, anti-odour merino T-shirts are great, along with underwear and baselayers in the same fabric. Some quick-dry towels are very handy too.
“For relaxing, I take an MP3 player with lots of playlists, a book or two and a pair of expedition slippers. Being a photographer and filmmaker I also bring lots of filming equipment.”
The Lunares bunker was repurposed as a simulated lunar base in 2017 and it is the only facility of its kind in Europe. It was transformed into a shuttle-like living space by Polish space architect, Leszek Orzechowski. Since its opening, dozens of simulated space missions have taken place with data collected from each expedition.
Stays ‘in space’ cost €1,750 and there is an application process with a related bachelor’s degree and good English among the requirements. Unsurprisingly, it is not advised for those suffering from claustrophobia.
The experiment lasts a total of 19 days, with four days living in the bunker ‘pre-flight’, 14 days of isolation while ‘travelling to the moon’ and one-day ‘post flight’. Pothier served as the mission commander during his time in isolation, with other roles including medical officer and software engineer.
The biggest difference to a real-life space mission is that participants do not live in zero gravity while at the Lunares base. But Pothier and his team did spend several hours a day wearing spacesuits while they visited an adjoining hanger that is carpeted in rubble and dust simulating the surface of the moon. The spacesuits had a rigid bottom half to restrict their movement to simulate how it would feel when walking in space. While ‘walking on the moon’, the team used a robotic lunar rover named Leo to collect materials.
So, what does a typical day look like at Lunares? Punctuality is of great importance, Pothier says, and the team received a wake-up call each morning at 7:30am. This was then followed by a yoga session and a hearty bowl of freeze-dried porridge, with coconut and figs spicing things up. The team then conducted several medical checks, which involved monitoring heart rate, weight and blood pressure. “We also did some experiments that tracked our grip strength and stability to see the influence of isolation on selected motor abilities and posture,” Pothier adds.
After all of their stats had been recorded, the team went about cleaning the module, ensuring the water supply was OK and preparing lunch. In the afternoons, there would be ‘moon landings’ with two people at a time going for ‘moon walks’ with Leo the lunar rover. Once everyone was ‘back on board’, there was an hour of mandatory physical training.
This Article firstly Publish on www.telegraph.co.uk