Colombian astronaut Diego Urbina will be part of a four-man international crew carrying out a 520-day simulation of a trip to Mars.
Urbina will be accompanied on the mission, which is part of the Mars500 Experiment, by one Belgian and two French astronauts.
Urbina, who was born in 1983 and also holds Italian citizenship, feels pride for playing a part in mankind’s efforts to go to Mars. “When the first humans step foot on Mars, I will be able say I contributed to that,” Urbina said, according to W Radio.
This will not be Urbina’s first space-related experience. In January of this year, he was a crew member at the Mars Desert Research Station in the USA, and also was previously an astronaut training intern with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Neutral Buoyancy Facility in Germany, reports SpaceRef.com.
The Mars500 Experiment is being “conducted by Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP), with extensive participation by ESA as part of its European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences to prepare for future human missions to the Moon and Mars.”
To the Colombian astronaut, “This study is not useful only for Mars, but also for life on Earth.”
The mission, which will take place in Russia in the coming days, will “mimic a full mission to Mars and back as accurately as possible without actually going there: Mars500 will be the first full-duration simulated mission to Mars, starting in a special facility in Moscow next summer. 250 days for the trip to Mars, 30 days on the surface and 240 days for the return journey, totalling 520 days.”