Although a manned mission to Mars is decades away, researchers are to begin an experiment to prepare for the 18-month trip.
An all-male crew is being locked inside a windowless mock-up capsule for over 500 days to see how they get on.
The idea is to help a real space crew of the future to cope with stress and claustrophobia.
“Some people enjoy the change of scenery, circumstances and people. But when everybody interacts with the same people in the same place, habits and behaviour become apparent very quickly. These habits may irritate,” said psychotherapist Mikhail Baryshev.
The trial is being conducted by a Moscow-based research centre in cooperation with the European Space Agency.
The six scientists come from from Russia China and Europe and will have a strict regime of tasks to follow.
One of the so-called “space guinea pigs” Romain Charles does not seem at all daunted by the prospect.
“It’s not a jail, it’s a programme, an experiment. It will be hard I’m sure but we have a target to stay here 520 days and we will achieve it,” he said.
But a similar experiment went badly wrong with a mixed sex crew after a Canadian woman complained of being forcibly kissed by a Russian team captain.
The incident was put down to a culture clash.