The process of crew selection
After defining the desirable characteristics of all four crewmembers and specifying in detail all the functions and tasks that they will execute during the mission, a selection process needs to be designed. The selection process has to do with how to detect and select the individuals that fulfill the job description for each of the positions available in the mission.
A set of criteria must be develop to correctly assess each potential astronaut's potential talents and suitability to the task In order to do this, and eventually to select our virtual astronauts for the mission simulation, we will start by developing a number of questions in order to try to evaluate the candidate's capabilities in each of the areas that integrate the mission.
General Questions : By formulating these questions we will try to gain some insight into the astronaut's general characteristics, personal traits, interests, character, general disposition, etc. An example of this type of question would be inquiring about the person's hobbies. Although this is by no means decisive or rigid in the answer, in our case we would be looking for example for individuals that enjoy recreational activities that do not require open air and too much space. If the astronaut says that he regularly takes fishing excursions, or jogs or rides his bicycle several miles every day he will badly miss those activities in the confinement and limited space of the Mars spacecraft for such a long time and that perhaps will result in nervous stress. Again, although there are no fixed rules, it seems that a person whose pastimes are listening to music, reading, or playing chess will likely adapt better to the trip conditions. Personal questions, such as those referred to the candidate's marital status, racial/cultural background, etc. would also be included here.
Technical Questions : These questions will be specifically directed to determine if the candidate's background and training is appropriate for the mission functions that are being defined. A separate set of questions will need to be developed for each of the four crewmembers that will make the trip. An example of this type of question would be if the candidate has flown in space before, how many hours of jet flight he has logged, missions flown, etc. for the pilot astronaut. Similar questions can be developed for the other crewmembers.
Psychological Questions : As it has been discussed during the web chats, a crucial factor to the success of the mission is the integration of the individual crewmembers into a group that will work cohesively to achieve the mission objectives. In such a long trip in a situation of confinement, where privacy will be severely limited by the minimal dimensions of the spacecraft, it is essential to avoid quarrels and nervous stress situations that could degenerate into serious mission critical problems. During the crew selection process, the candidates must demonstrate adaptability, be even tempered and of controlled reactions. Once the astronauts are selected, ground psychologists must ensure before the flight that the crew functions as a group and will be able to work cooperatively under the mission conditions (long duration flight in confinement and with little privacy) and be able to deal with contingency situations that are very likely to arise. The "psychological" questions will thus attempt to define the individual's ability to form part of a group and work cooperatively with peers.
In order to develop the criteria and the questions, we are soliciting input from our members to compile a database of questions in all three areas.