Lying with your head in the stars
Half way through, the twelve volunteers had a visit from an important guest, Claudie Haigner, the French minister for European Affairs, who had previously been an ESA astronaut, taking part in two missions and spending a total of 25 days in space. This also brought home the extent to which knowledge of how the female body reacts to weightless conditions is limited due to the small number of space flights involving women. Only three women have spent six months or more in space, compared with 48 men (including 20 who have spent more than a year and one more than two years).
Isabelle from France, who works in the food industry, is very conscious of the importance of the experiment: "It's quite amazing when you stop to think about it: what we have achieved has never been done before".
"We really feel like we have taken part in a space programme", says Dorotha. "There's been talk about it everywhere and that's something we are aware of at all times. The scientists explain their experiments to us and we are always learning a lot. In fact, it's very much a two-way process since we are participants in their work".
"We feel very involved in the experiments and tests; in fact we're members of the team", adds Monica. "One could even say that we are the most important members of the team and that's a huge responsibility".
Beata, a young mother, takes a broader view, saying, "Space research, expeditions to Mars: these are really fascinating and important things. I know I'll never go into space but at least I'll know I've done all I could for research, for astronauts and f