TEL AVIV, Israel/COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — April 17, 2018 — StemRad — a developer of technology that shields first responders, astronauts and soldiers from harmful radiation exposure — announced today that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Israel Space Agency have signed an agreement for the launch of StemRad’s AstroRad radiation protection vest aboard NASA’s EM-1 mission around the moon, the last test flight before the space agency begins deep space manned missions. The deep space missions are the first since the Apollo missions.
The agreement was signed between NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Israel Space Agency Director Avi Blasberger today at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
“AstroRad” is the second product developed by StemRad, following the success of its first product, called StemRad 360 Gamma — the world’s first wearable shield that provides meaningful protection from harmful gamma radiation — which is now widely used among first responders around the world. The 360 Gamma protects the pelvis, ensuring survival of critical bone marrow stem cells. For AstroRad, StemRad collaborated with NASA’s prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, to adapt its technology for use in space.
With the exception of the Apollo missions to the moon, human space exploration missions have always been confined to low earth orbit (within 1,200 miles of earth), where Earth’s magnetosphere repels the majority of radiation threats, including galactic cosmic rays and dangerous solar storms. When venturing into long, manned deep space missions, the threat of radiation exposure is significantly higher, posing one of the most significant challenges facing NASA as it prepares to launch manned missions to Mars.
The trial, called “Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment”, or MARE in short, is the first time that the impact of radiation exposure on humans is being measured in deep space. The test will be comprised of two Matroshka test dummies — one bare and one wearing AstroRad. The Matroshkas, containing thousands of radiation detectors, will be supplied by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
While EM-1 will not likely encounter a solar storm, the mission will pass through the Van Allen radiation belt — a zone of energetic charged particles that emanate from solar winds — providing an opportunity to test AstroRad in conditions similar to those found during a solar storm. When passing through the belt, the radiation sensors in the dummies will be on and will record readings during the passage. Should the trial be successful, AstroRad will be used on the upcoming planned manned missions to deep space.
Additionally, AstroRad is expected to be used aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2019 for advanced ergonomic studies in microgravity.
“We are proud to be working with NASA, Lockheed Martin and our other partners in providing a critical piece of safety equipment, helping to usher in an era of deep space exploration,” said Dr. Oren Milstein, Founder and CEO of StemRad. “The team at StemRad has been working extremely hard to design, tweak and improve AstroRad and we are confident that it will pass the tests presented during the EM-1 mission with flying colors.”
Posted April 18, 2017