Six volunteers from Russia and Europe today emerged from a capsule inside a Moscow research facility where they had been locked away for the last three months to simulate a mission to Mars.
The six stepped out of the module smiling and in apparent good health after 105 days cut off from the outside world at the isolation facility at the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP).
At precisely 1000 GMT, an engineer removed the lock, cut the seal and the all-male team stepped outside the capsule that had been their home for the last three months.
Dressed in blue overalls like real-life spacemen, the four Russians, a Frenchman and a German were handed bouquets of flowers and waved at well-wishers as they stood arm-in-arm outside the capsule.
"The experiment has been a success," the Russian "commander" of the crew, Sergei Ryazansky, formally reported to his superiors from the Russian space agency Roskosmos.
"I hope that the results will be useful for everyone, including on Earth," said Cyrille Fournier of France, a commercial airline pilot for Air France.
While their module had stayed firmly on Earth at the Moscow research centre, the experiment was aimed at replicating exactly the conditions of a manned mission to Mars.