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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Fights during space test
In space, no-one can hear you fight
In space, no-one can hear you fight
Fights have broken out between trainee cosmonauts during an experiment to see how future space pioneers would cope with long and lonely stretches in space.

They displayed excessive irritability and briefly lost self-control

Vadim Gushchin
The ground-based test crammed potential cosmonauts into spacecraft simulators and monitored how they reacted to months of isolation.

The answer is not very well, according to Vadim Gushchin, chief psychologist at the Russian Medical and Biological Problems Institute.

He told the Interfax news agency that at least two serious incidents had occurred at a test module since the experiments began on 2 July, 1999.

Forceful clash

Two spacemen failed to get along and "used force in the clash", Dr Gushchin said, without naming the men.

And a Canadian female trainee considered a Russian male colleague's attempt to kiss her on New Year's eve as sexual harassment, he said.

She publicly spoke out about this incident when the test mission ended.

Moreover, a Japanese trainee asked for an end to his role in the experiment. His wish was granted.

'Excessive irritability'

All these incidents happened while the crews were adjusting to isolation, said Dr Gushchin: "They displayed excessive irritability, briefly lost self-control, were overly emotional and too categorical in assessments."

Representatives of the Japanese and Canadian space agencies, which organised the experiment, and Russian specialists claimed these incidents did not pose a threat to either the health or safety of the crews.

The scientists are now analysing the results before they are discussed at international scientific conferences.

The experiment is called the Simulation of Flight of International Crew on Space Station and is part of the preparations for the occupation of the International Space Station.

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