There are experiments going on such as the Mars500 project where a number of people have been sealed into a mock-up of a spaceship for 520 days - to finish November 2011. From reading this book it sounds as if all the experiments necessary have already been done by the whaling ships in the 1800s. I hope the Mars500 project does not have this book on their reading list, but they should each be given a free copy as soon as they are out. The whaling ships were in some ways more cut off than spaceships and certainly went to sea for comparable lengths of time, in worse conditions.
This tale is a heart rending account of what happened after the sinking of the ship by the whale, but also an account of what men endured even when things did not go wrong. Leaves me feeling luckier than ever to be living here and now - and I recommend the book to everyone, not just spacemen.