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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First 4 Volunteers Start Life On Mock-Up Space Station

Russian researchers launched an experiment Friday that will lock away a multinational crew in a mock spacecraft for up to eight months, part of preparations for life aboard the International Space Station.

The first four Russian volunteers waved and smiled to relatives, officials and reporters before disappearing behind a metal door for a scheduled 240 days aboard the space station look-alike at the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems in Moscow.

"It will be a good test in hard conditions," crew chief Vasily Lukyanyuk said before clambering aboard a cramped capsule.

Altogether, 25 people from Russia, Germany, Canada, Japan and the United States, two of them women, will take part in the experiment, which is intended to model the new space station's environment and teach researchers how to alleviate stress among its crew.

To imitate space isolation, the crew will only communicate with researchers and their families via telephone and the Internet.

The mock-up will be pressurized to duplicate conditions in space. To make the similarity even more complete, the crew will be fed real space food. Only weightlessness will be missing.