Humanity and sanity in space

‘It was Antarctica that started helping us kind of identify that individuals who are confined and stay in place are a very different kind of individual than your expeditioners. So far, the evidence also seems to support that a mixed gender crew actually works best because men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and they tend to be complementary.’

It is not only real-world experiments that have shaped our view of the psychological challenges of space exploration, but experiments conducted in the Petri dishes of the human imagination and the writing produced by these musings.

An early example of is the 1952 short story Survival, by English writer John Wyndham, which imagines that a crew are marooned off the planet of Mars. As the food runs out, they end up drawing straws to see who will die and be eaten by the rest of the crew. The last two survivors are a woman and her baby. As rescuers come through the ship months later human bones are found floating through the air. The woman, on seeing the rescuers, pulls out a gun and whispers to her son, ‘Look baby, food, lovely food.’

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