A radiation protection vest developed by the Israeli company StemRad will be tested by NASA on its Orion EM-1 mission around the moon, the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) said Tuesday.
NASA and the Israeli Space Agency signed an agreement on April 17 for the use of the AstroRad radiation protection vest.
The US Space Agency will launch the vest in space during the last test flight of the Orion spacecraft. If the test, dubbed “Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experience (MARE)”, is successful, it could be used in future explorations, according to the ISA.
The agreement was signed by Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s Acting Administrator, and Avi Blasberger, Director of ISA, at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado.
“AstroRad” was developed by StemRad following the success of the company’s first Tel Aviv-based product, which is now widely used by first responders around the world — an anti-radiation belt for first aid that protects the pelvis and marrow stem cells of rescuers exposed to gamma radiation after nuclear disasters. StemRad collaborated with Lockheed Martin to adapt its technology to space.
The StemRad vest for space has been developed on the basis of the principle of selective protection of bone marrow, important for the renewal of blood cells and other organs particularly sensitive to radiation exposure. As women are particularly vulnerable to space radiation, the first step is a suit suitable for women.
ISA added that it hopes to soon sign an agreement with Lockheed Martin to launch the vest at the International Space Station (ISS) in early 2019. The station’s astronauts will wear the vest during their daily routine at the station for ergonomic evaluation purposes.
This assessment along with the radiation protection data from the Orion EM-1 AstroRad experiment will provide NASA with all the information needed to evaluate AstroRad as a viable personal protective equipment for future human space missions such as Orion EM-2 and any future mission to Mars.
Israeli technology in space exploration is known around the world as innovative, resulting from “out of the box” thinking, said the Minister of Science, Ofir Akunis. “We are proud to facilitate this technology and allow it to be part of one of humanity’s most exciting experiences in the years to come.”
Last year, the Israeli Space Agency signed an agreement with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to use its expertise in examining the effects of space radiation and its absorption in the human body, in order to understand the benefits offered by AstroRad.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will supply the “Matroshka”, a plastic human mannequin of the same density as human tissue and containing thousands of radiation detectors, to be launched as part of the EM-1 flight.
“Matroshka” will wear the AstroRad vest next to a second unprotected “Matroshka” that will not be fitted with the jacket. Upon return from Orion to Earth, NASA, DLR and ISA teams will perform a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of AstroRad.