- Nov 29, 2023
Next-Gen Vest Designed to Protect Astronauts from Radiation Will Blast Off with Artemis
A next-generation vest will launch onboard NASA’s next-generation spacecraft intended to send astronauts back to the Moon. The purpose of this vest? To protect astronauts from the enhanced radiation they will be exposed to when they travel beyond low Earth orbit. Radiation exposure is a primary concern for space exploration, and ensuring that astronauts have the ability to live and work effectively—and safely—during future Moon missions is crucial.
The AstroRad vest, developed by StemRad and Lockheed Martin, will join research and technology demonstration payloads launching onboard NASA’s Artemis I mission no earlier than August 29 from Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will test NASA’s Deep Space Exploration System, including ground systems at NASA Kennedy, the agency’s Space Launch System rocket, and the uncrewed Orion spacecraft that will orbit the Moon before splashing down on Earth.
The AstroRad vest is designed to protect those organs most sensitive to radiation exposure by protecting stem cell populations within them. Exposure to excessive space radiation can lead to increased risks of cancer, degenerative issues, neurological disorders, early aging, and even death. The goal of having humans living and working in space continuously requires limiting exposure to harmful radiation. For the last two years, astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have tested a prototype of the AstroRad vest for comfort and wearability.
“The feedback is allowing us to improve the vest so it may be worn for extended periods, because a solar particle event can last from days to weeks,” said Oren Milstein, CEO and chief scientific officer at StemRad. “This data, combined with the Artemis I data, will create the ideal vest, as we will have all the information we need to optimize comfort without compromising protection.”
The AstroRad vest was on display during the opening keynote at this year’s International Space Station Research and Development Conference. The keynote kicked off with a live downlink from the station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins followed by a panel detailing the benefits of conducting research on the orbiting laboratory.
The ISS National Lab supports an array of technology demonstrations similar to the AstroRad vest, providing unique capabilities for research teams while also enabling business models that can drive commerce in low Earth orbit and beyond.
To learn more about how the ISS National Lab is enabling opportunity on our nation’s only research incubator in low Earth orbit, please visit our website.
Image: The AstroRad Vest in the Cupola module aboard the ISS