Published On: Wed, Mar 8th, 2017

Israeli Startup’s astronaut radiation shield set for moon mission trial

StemRad say it has proven the radiation-shield in the laboratory and in simulations, but testing will also take place on the Orion spacecraft

StemRad’s radiation shield


Israeli startup StemRad which have developed an innovative radiation shield for astronauts against deadly solar particles in deep space, is set for trials on a lunar mission in 2018.

StemRad’s shield developed with Lockheed Martin will be used on the first manned flight to Mars in 2021, if the experiment flight to the moon next year shows the suit protected the dummy within as it was supposed to.

Protection from radiation is one of the fiercest challenges facing teams with the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars and bringing them safely home. especially if a radiation storm were to last longer than a few hours.

The Israel Space Agency and the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Space signed an agreement with the German Aerospace Center for launching the Israeli company’s innovative suit as part of the next trial flight of NASA’s Orion satellite.

Tel Aviv-based StemRad, has already produced a belt as radiation shield to protect workers and first respondents from harmful gamma ray emitted in nuclear disasters, such as Fukushima and Chernobyl.



StemRad belt radiation shield

The vest is designed to protect the bone marrow stem cells in the body’s largest reservoir of bone marrow, the hip region.

StemRad say it has proven the concept in the laboratory and in simulations, but testing will also take place on the Orion spacecraft, a joint project of Lockheed Martin, NASA and the European Space Agency.

In this research NASA’s Orion will be sent to the moon with two dummies on its deck, mimicking tissue density characteristics and anatomy of real human beings. Each torso would be retrofitted with dosimeters at various organ locations such as the lungs and stomach. One of them wearing StemRad radiation vest prototype.

The two will be analyzed after they return to Earth a month later. The dummies, which will contain thousands of radiation detectors, will be checked under laboratory conditions, and the level of radiation penetrating through StemRad’s suit and absorbed by them, if any, will be tested.

The vest is made of layers that look like a contoured map and will be tailor-made for each astronaut. Non-metallic protective materials will be positioned on each shield to cover the organs of each astronaut.

“This product will enable human deep space exploration. Our breakthrough has come in creating the architecture of the multi-layered shield to accurately cover the most important organs,” said StemRad co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Oren Milstein.

“We’re going to take our extensive knowledge of human spaceflight, apply our nano-materials engineering expertise, and working closely with StemRad, evaluate the viability for this type of radiation shielding in deep-space,” said Randy Sweet, Lockheed Martin business development director for the civil space line of business. “The Lockheed Martin team believes this could result in an innovative solution to enhance crew safety on the journey to Mars.”

Astronauts in Earth’s orbit, such as those on the International Space Station, do not face the same risk because they are protected by the planet’s magnetic field which acts as a shield, Milstein explained.

Daniel Levitt and Milstein founded StemRad in 2011, a few months after the disaster at the nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Japan.

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