There has never been an all-female crew at the International Space Station, which seems crazy because astrophysics and science are such open, welcoming fields for women. Before that can happen, apparently some burning scientific questions must be asked: Can women get along in space? And can they cope without makeup? In Russia on Wednesday, one team was sent to find out.
The group of six volunteers (including scientists, a doctor, and a psychologist) began a test moon mission where, for eight days, they would live inside a wood-paneled suite of rooms at Moscow’s Institute of Biomedical Problems, described as being “renowned for its wacky research into the psychological and physical effects of space travel.”
Although the Institute ran a similar test in 2010 with an all-male crew, Sergei Ponomaryov, the experiment’s supervisor, said it would be extra-special to see how women interact together under such conditions. “It’s interesting for us to see what is special about the way a female crew communicates,” he said. “They say that in one kitchen, two housewives find it hard to live together.” Modern science!
Prior to beginning the simulation, the six volunteers fielded questions from the press, including one about how they would manage without makeup. Darya Komissarova responded succinctly, “We are very beautiful without makeup,” while her colleague Anna Kussmaul added, “We are doing work. When you’re doing your work, you don’t think about men and women.” The experiment will simulate a flight to the moon and back, but one has to wonder if any of them will want to return to Earth at all — even if it’s only a simulation.