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On Friday, August 28, 2015, the six crew members of the fourth Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation or HI-SEAS mission entered the solar-powered dome on the slopes of Mauna Loa where they will be living in isolation for one year. The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa research project is simulating long-duration space travel.

Said HI-SEAS Principal Investigator Kim Binsted, “The fourth mission is longer than any mission we’ve done before, so the first two were four months, the next one was eight months and we’re finally doing a full year long mission.”

Funded by NASA, the mission will build on previous research on crew member cohesion and performance over time.

“We need to understand how to pick crews and how to support crews while they’re on the mission in order for us to get to Mars and back safely,” added Binsted.

“I’m looking forward to getting to act like an astronaut for a year, because I’ve wanted to be an astronaut for most of my life,” said HI-SEAS crew member Andrzej Stewart. “I’m not a real astronaut yet but I’m getting closer and closer to that dream and this is a step in that direction.”

The morning the crew entered the HI-SEAS dome, Carmel Johnston browsed a local Hilo music shop on a personal mission of her own.

“Here I’m trying to find a ukulele so I can learn a new skill set while I’m in the dome,” said Johnston. “I’m wanting to learn some of the Hawaiian culture and learn a new skill that I think would be really neat to know for later on in life too.”

Just before the HI-SEAS mission started, crew member Sheyna Gifford reflected on what one year in isolation might be like.

“Well I think it’s taken for granted that we’ll all miss our friends and family but just this, the wind in your face, the sun, that I’m gonna miss a lot and you don’t notice it really till it’s gone.”

Crew members of the fourth Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation mission

More HI-SEAS news

—By Kapiʻolani Ching

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