A HI-SEAS crew member from a previous mission (photo by Sian Proctor)

The six astronaut-like crew members of the next Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission has been selected. For the next mission, starting October 15, the participants will be isolated in their dome habitat for eight months. This mission is twice as long as any previously completed at the Hawaiʻi site, and second only to Russia’s Mars500 experiment in total duration.

Also, for the first time, HI-SEAS will have a female commander. In NASA history, only two women have every commanded the spaceship: astronauts Eileen Collins in July 1999 and Pamela Melroy in November 2007.

For true space flight, the commander role requires previous astronaut experience as well as at least 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet aircraft. For HI-SEAS, Commander Martha Lenio was selected based on feedback from fellow crew members and from instructors of the National Outdoor Leadership Skills course that both NASA and HI-SEAS require of their teams in training.

Martha Lenio will be the first female commander of a HI-SEAS mission.

Lenio is a mechanical engineer who earned her PhD in photovoltaic engineering from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) in 2013. She has worked in sustainable building and the photovoltaics industry, and is currently starting up her own renewable energy consulting firm. Lenio was born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The six HI-SEAS crew members are part of the human performance study funded by NASA. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers and their collaborators will be studying the group’s cohesion over time, gathering data on a wide range of cognitive, social and emotional factors that may impact team performance.

During their eight months inside the habitat, the crew will be continuously monitored using surveillance cameras, body movement trackers, electronic surveys, and other methods.

“The HI-SEAS site presents a remarkably high-fidelity environment for this type of long-duration space study,” said UH Mānoa Associate Professor Kim Binsted, the principle investigator of the study. “Looking out the single porthole window, all you can see are lava fields and Maunakea in the distance. Once the door is closed, the faux airlock sealed, the silence and physical separation contribute to the ‘long way from home’ experience from our crew members.”

2014–2015 HI-SEAS crew members