An experiment where people will spend two weeks in a closed-off environment simulating the International Space Station (ISS) has been swamped with over 4,400 applications from hopefuls, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced on Jan. 13.
The agency began accepting applications from the public for adult males on Dec. 24 for the eight spots in the experiment, which is aimed at creating a method to evaluate the stress of astronauts aboard the ISS. The agency was swamped with applications from people wanting to experience what it is like to be an astronaut. On Dec. 28 the number of applications exceeded 2,000. Applications were temporarily halted because it was deemed the flood of entries would interfere with the selection process. However, the agency continued to receive inquiries about the experiment, and after expanding the capacity of its selection process, it began accepting applications again on Jan. 4 and continued doing so through Jan. 12.
A JAXA researcher in charge of the experiment says, "We are pleasantly surprised that we had this kind of response. We want to make the research a success."
JAXA will use the application documents to narrow down the possible test subjects to 16, examining applicants' health and motives for applying. Afterwards, JAXA will use tests and interviews to select the final eight.
The two-week experiment at the facility, located in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, will start on Feb. 5. The subjects will be completely cut off from the outside and will work on simple labor and group tasks while living on nonperishable food. Each subject will be paid 380,000 yen for participating. Similar experiments will be held three more times in fiscal 2016. The experiment results will be used for improving the health management of astronauts and for planning a future, manned expedition to Mars.