Photo Credit: Israel Space Agency
Anti-radiation vest developed by StemRad

A radiation protection vest developed by StemRad will be tested by NASA on its Orion EM-1 Mission around the moon, the Israel Space Agency (ISA) said Tuesday.

NASA and the Israel Space Agency signed an agreement on April 17 for the use of the AstroRad radiation protection vest and the North American Space Agency will launch the vest into space as part of its last test flight of its Orion spacecraft before manned missions begin. If the trial, coined “Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE)” is successful, it may have applicability for future exploration, the ISA said.

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The agreement was signed by NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot and ISA director Avi Blasberger during the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado.

“AstroRad” was developed by StemRad following the success of the Tel Aviv-based company’s first product, which is now widely used among first responders in the world – a radiation belt for ‘first responders” that protects the pelvis, ensuring survival of critical bone marrow stem cells exposed to gamma radiation after nuclear disasters. StemRad collaborated with Lockheed Martin, to adapt its technology for use in space.

The StemRad vest for space use was developed based on the principle of selective protection of the bone marrow which is important for blood cell renewal and other organs that are particularly sensitive to radiation exposure. As women are particularly vulnerable to space radiation, the first step is an adapted suit for women.

The ISA added that it hopes to soon sign an agreement with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company to launch the vest to the International Space Station (ISS) at the beginning of 2019. The astronauts on the station will wear the vest during their daily routine at the station for the purpose of ergonomic evaluation.

This evaluation together with radiation protection data obtained from the AstroRad experiment on Orion EM-1 will provide NASA with all the necessary information for assessing the AstroRad as essential personal protective equipment for future manned deep space missions such as Orion EM-2 and any future missions to Mars.

“Israeli technology in space exploration is known throughout the world as innovative, resulting from ‘out of the box’ thinking,” said Minister of Science Ofir Akunis. “We are proud to facilitate this technology and enable it to be part of one of humanity’s most exciting experiments in the coming years.”

Last year, the Israel Space Agency signed an agreement with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to use its expertise in the examination of deep space radiation effects and its absorption in the human body, toward understanding the benefit provided by AstroRad.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will contribute the “Matroshka,” a human ‘phantom’ made of plastics with the same density as human tissue and containing thousands of radiation detectors, which will launch as part of the EM-1 flight.

“Matroshka” will wear the AstroRad vest alongside a second, unprotected, “Matroshka” that will not be equipped with the vest. Upon the return of Orion to earth, teams from NASA, DLR and ISA will perform a comparative analysis on the efficacy of AstroRad.

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