Two's company, three's a crowd for astronauts

A psychological study of Russian and American astronauts who lived on the Mir space station has confirmed the old proverb that two is company, three is a crowd.

A psychological study of Russian and American astronauts who lived on the Mir space station has confirmed the old proverb that two is company, three is a crowd.

It found that three is the worst possible number of people to send into space for long periods, especially if one feels an outsider. This will have implications for the International Space Station, which is scheduled to receive its first crew of three - two Russians and an American - next month.

Nick Kanas, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, found that an "odd man out" arrangement creates hidden tensions and resentments.

This was especially true on Mir when an American lived in close confinement with two Russian cosmonauts. Professor Kanas found that US astronauts frequently felt they were in an isolated minority under Russian command and were less happy. He suggested that the leadership of missions should be rotated.

The findings are published in Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine.

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