Several aspiring astronauts have been taking late-night dives under the ice as part of a training camp to reproduce the conditions of a space mission.
The six students – three men and three women – from several different countries set up their tents in Crans-Montana in south-western Switzerland on Thursday for a training camp set to last through the weekend. The camp, part of the Space@yourserviceExternal link association at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), aims to test how people manage in the most difficult conditions found in space.
“The goal is to get familiar with discomfort,” explains Chloé Carrière, president of Space@yourservice. "We work on cohesion in the group, as if we no longer have contact with Earth", she told news agency Keystone-ATS in an interview.
Its flagship activity is diving under the ice of Lake Moubra under the guidance of French polar explorer Alban Michon. “The most difficult is not the cold but stress management. You can’t get out just anywhere and you must not get claustrophobic”, explains Christian Cardinaux, one of the participants.
Some 15 people are taking part in the experiment including the six “analogue” astronauts and two reservists ranging in age from 20 to 31 and hail from Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, and Chile. They were selected from among 200 candidates from all over the world thanks to Claude Nicollier, Switzerland’s first astronaut.
The association Space@yourservice, founded by EPFL, aims to popularize the space sciences among the public and students. The training camp is part of the Asclepios projectExternal link of the Space@yourservice association, which is the first edition worldwide of an analogue space mission entirely made by students, for students.
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