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The preteen boy, who has lived his whole life on a spaceship, discovers that food is delivered to a hidden door and that the journey is research.

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  • Welcome to the site. Please take a look at this post and see if you can think of any more details to flesh out this description a bit. For example, knowing when you read this story, in what format (anthology book/magazine/online), and when you think it might've been published would be very helpful. The more information you can give us, the better the odds of us finding this story for you. – LogicDictates Jun 24 at 23:31
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    If the question has been answered to your satisfaction, you can "accept" an answer by clicking on the check mark next to it. – user14111 Jun 25 at 1:20
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    This is also similar in premise to the Syfy miniseries "Ascension" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascension_(miniseries) – towe Jun 25 at 11:43
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    Definitely not the answer, but the premise reminds me of Space Cadets, a reality TV show where participants were tricked into believing they had been to space. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series) – AJFaraday Jun 25 at 12:41
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/33812/… – Otis Jun 25 at 16:44
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This sounds very much like "Thirteen to Centaurus", a classic short story by J.G. Ballard, first published in April 1972 in Amazing Stories.

The story takes place in a mysterious living environment simply called "The Station", which holds a crew of 13, including the protagonist of the story, Abel, who assume they are living on a space station. Abel suffers from recurring nightmares as he approaches his 16th birthday, which lead the doctor to reveal to him that the Station is a generational starship travelling to Alpha Centauri. In fact this is a lie; the doctor is part of a team observing the effect of isolation on such a trip, and the Station is in fact a dome on Earth.

Abel indeed sees food being delivered from outside though a hole in the outer dome, and the hypnotic conditioning he is subject to begins to break down. In the end he becomes the de facto captain of the crew.

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