"apart from the gravity aspect"
That's not a quickly overlooked triffle.
I would agree, however, the point of the experiment in the aforementioned article was to see if humans could feasibly be confined for a duration of a trip to Mars. The reason gravity is not an issue here is that we already have data from past experience in this domain. Take for example Expedition 14 to the ISS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expedition_14). This expedition lasted for 215 days, in which two crew members were weightless that entire time. In comparison, this article is talking about spending a week (or few months) in space. This is pale in comparison to anything we have already done, and frankly I don't see the point of it at all. I don't doubt that the space station could be vital in testing planned missions to Mars, but I don't see anything useful coming from this simulation.
Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.