A new space radiation protection vest for women astronauts, developed by Israeli-US startup StemRad will be used in NASA’s first moon mission in 50 years. The Artemis I mission is the first in a series of planned deep-space missions aimed at paving the way to a new generation of human explorations of the Moon and Mars.
The unmanned mission will deploy a pair of mannequins, one of which will wear the antiradiation vest, Astro Rad. The experiment will investigate radiation exposure throughout the flight and test the effectiveness of the new protection vest. It will be launched at the end of August.
Until today, all manned missions to explore space, besides Apollo’s missions to the moon, were limited to low-Earth orbits where most of the harmful radiation is shielded by Earth’s magnetic field.
The two mannequins are manufactured from materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues, and the organs of an adult female, dubbed Helga and Zohar.
Zohar will wear the radiation vest, so scientists can collect data on how much radiation astronauts might experience inside Orion on a lunar mission – conditions that cannot be recreated on Earth.
The vest will cover the upper body, the uterus, and blood-forming organs, and both mannequins will be equipped with radiation detectors so scientists can map internal radiation doses to bodily areas containing critical organs. This is because women typically experience greater sensitivity to the effects of space radiation.
The international experiment is a collaboration between the Israel Space Agency (ISA), NASA, and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). ISA will provide the radiation vest, and DLR will provide the mannequins and the majority of the radiation detectors.
Dr. Oren Milstein, StemRad’s founder and CEO, said: “Our team has worked extremely hard to design, tweak and improve AstroRad and we are confident that it will pass the challenges presented during the Artemis I mission with flying colors.”
Uri Oron, Director of the Israel Space Agency at the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology said: “Artemis I, the first in a series of missions to build long-term human presence at the Moon, is amongst the most extraordinary challenges by humanity . We are proud to be part of this tremendous effort alongside StemRad, DLR, NASA, and many other partners on the largest radiation experiment to leave Earth’s orbit.”
StemRad is a Tel-Aviv based company that creates lifesaving protection against deadly radiation. The company was founded in 2011.