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Volunteers from the Mars Society will travel to the Australian desert.
NASA has been working for the past several months to implement the changes requested by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. The Stafford-Covey Task Group released their second interim report today, which tracks the status of the Return to Flight effort. Three of the fifteen recommendations have been completed, and they expect to wrap up several more by the summer. One of the most difficult tasks so far has been to eliminate falling debris during launch - it was a piece of foam that fell off the fuel tank that critically damaged Columbia - engineers are worried that the only way to test if the problem has been fixed is by actually launching the shuttle.
Space tourism company Space Adventures announced on Wednesday that they've completed a deal to send an unnamed Japanese celebrity to the International Space Station. The deal was negotiated with Dentsu, the world's largest advertising agency, which had previously organized a commercial filmed on board the station for Pocari Sweat (a sport drink). Space Adventures has now filled two of its four allocated seats on Soyuz launches over the next few years. The other seat will go to Greg Olsen, who's currently training at Russia's star City in preparation for his launch as early as October.
When you lock a bunch of humans in a small space for a long time, they can go a little crazy. So researchers from the Australian National University are trying to understand the dynamics that might afflict a long-term space mission, and offer some solutions to make things easier. Volunteers from the Mars Society will travel to the Australian desert, and attempt to mimic some of the conditions experienced by long-duration space travelers. The researchers will test them daily, and watch for detachment, disagreements, and see if the larger group will splinter off into smaller subgroups.
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