For anybody just jumping in, over the next few comics I’ll be covering aspects of the landmark Mars-500 experiment, which put six guys (Alexey Sitev, Sukhrob Kamolov, Alexander Smoleevskij, Romain Charles, Diego Urbina, and Yue Wang) from a variety of backgrounds—including cosmonauts, engineers, and doctors—in a mockup of an Earth-to-Mars spacecraft for 520 days. The purpose of which was to study the effects of long-term space travel on human physiology and psychology. From a single concept piece, I ended up writing a whole bunch of jokes, so I hope you don’t get bored over the course of the series. Shall we?

When you’re trapped in a windowless metal can for over a year, boredom becomes your biggest enemy—even worse if that tin can is floating through outer space. With boredom and lethargy comes inattentiveness, and in space, not being alert can be deadly.

So in order to keep the crew on their toes, the Mars-500 mission planners, working behind the scenes as Mission Control, orchestrated some disasters. Unscheduled drills provided the experimenters with information on the crew’s mental acuity and group cohesion, with the added benefit of a much-needed break in the monotony. You can read about the Mars500 Christmas Blackout over at the mission diary, kept by crew members Diego Urbina and Romain Charles.

Speaking of which, I saw a mention in my twitter feed last night from none other than Diego himself about the series. I immediately felt bad for not making the crew in the comic look like the actual crew (though I snuck a badly drawn likeness of Diego in there) and also for making light of their grueling ordeal. Well, only a little. Anyway, we started talking and he is very very graciously offering an inside peek of what life was like in the Mars500 capsule. I’ll try to pepper the articles with relevant tidbits as they come out, and check back for updates to these articles as I’ll probably update them constantly. I’m excited! Hope you are, too.