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Mars astronaut radiation shield set for moon mission trial

Friday, March 03, 2017 - 01:53

A vest designed to shield astronauts from deadly solar particles may pave the way for deep space exploration, its Israeli developer says. Roselle Chen reports.

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It's a vest that could be used to shield astronauts from deadly solar particles in deep space. The AstroRad Radiation Shield is designed to protect human tissue and stem cells from harmful radiation. Made by Tel Aviv-based StemRad, it's set for trials on a lunar mission, worn by a phantom torso dummy. SOUNDBITE (English) OREN MILSTEIN, CEO OF STEMRAD, SAYING: "People going back into deep space for the first time since 1972 requires a certain form of radiation protection. Those people are going to be exposed to doses of radiation that do not exist on the International Space Station. This product is an enabler of deep space exploration by humans that are intending to go back to the moon and go to Mars for the first time ever." U.S. space agency NASA hopes to send astronauts to Mars in the mid-2030s. The planet's sparse atmosphere offers no protection against solar radiation. The vest is made of layers that look like a contoured map and will be tailor-made for each astronaut. SOUNDBITE (English) GIDEON WATERMAN, STEMRAD CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, SAYING: "The variable thickness topography provides optimum protection to critical tissues such as stem cell niches within the organs. Simultaneously, we have to have a high degree of density and flexibility in order for the solution to be practical for future astronauts. Using this design in a layered structure, we're achieving exactly that." The Orion spacecraft is set to orbit the moon unmanned during the debut flight of NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket in late 2018. The first protective vest should be produced by the end of this year. StemRad has already made a belt to protect rescue workers from harmful gamma ray radiation emitted in nuclear disasters, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

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Mars astronaut radiation shield set for moon mission trial

Friday, March 03, 2017 - 01:53