There are many factors in planning a long space voyage. The human interaction being one of them. Group dynamics have been studied in detail for naval and other military applications, the stations on Antarctica have also contributed to the body of knowledge. As seen with Biosphere 2 the answers for space (or simulated space) trips are not as simple.

Logistical limitations put more restrictions on the number of members of space crew then common Military or Arctic journeys.

I have heard that the number of members of a team, can impact the relationship dynamics, where poor dynamics lead to mission failure. Presumably civilian vs military and/or gender of crew members would be considerations as well,

Has there been any significant research done to find the optimal configuration and number of members of a small (<= 5) team?

  • $\begingroup$ This seems like a good question asking for non-opinion based answers. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


Russia has been conducting a series of experiments since 1967 with the most recent one being Mars-500.

Before that there were

  • 1967 a year long experiment of 3 people in 12 square meters hermocapsule, imitating mars spaceship designed by Korolyov. There is a documentary (in Russian) See Mars... without Going Crazy available on youtube.

  • 1972 BIOS-3 closed ecosystem experiment with crews of 1-3 people.

The Ground Experimental Complex has been used for the following experiments by the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Biomedical Problems:

  • 1976-1977 a 120 day experiment. Group dynamics and interaction with a visiting crew.

  • 1980 25 days. The program studied interaction of a male only crew with a female-only visiting crew.

  • 1983-1984 60 days study of mixed gender group dynamics, and 2 other 90 days experiments.

  • 1987 a 90 days experiment with several emergency simulation periods, a week long each.

  • 1989 a 30 days experiment, reduced levels of oxygen.

  • 1994-1995 Human Behavior in Extended Spaceflight (HUBES-94) as part of EuroMir-95 collaboration.

  • 1995-1996 ECOPSY-95 (aka EKOPSI-95) a 90 days experiment

  • 1999-2000 SFINCSS-99 a 240 days experiment. That one resulted in a crew member defection, fisticuffs and a sexual assault.

  • 2007-2011 Mars-500 included 14, 105 and 520 days experiments with 6 people crews.

Some results of HUBES-94, ECOPSY-95, SFINCSS-99 and MARS-500 experiments can be found in PubMed database.

  • $\begingroup$ What were the conclusions of these studies? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 4:27
  • $\begingroup$ One should not expect conclusions in the form of "The optimal martian crew is a married couple, single man, single woman and a robot". There were hundreds of distinct experiments resulting in multiple mission recommendations, crew and commander selection guideline, instrument and procedure adjustments. $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 13:48

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