NRC Report on Astronaut Radiation Hazards Released

By Keith Cowing
December 17, 1999
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The National Research Council released a report on 9 December 1999 that outlines the potential radiation risks faced by the astronauts aboard the International Space Station and the measures that need to be taken to insure that they are protected from radiation hazards. In releasing this report, the NRC noted that “construction plans call for approximately 43 shuttle flights and more than 1,500 hours of activity outside the orbiting station, most of which will occur during the peak phase of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle”

According to the NRC: “An unofficial NASA flight rule specifies that changes in flight plans must be based on current data that reflect the weather immediately around the space station,” said committee chair George Siscoe, research professor of astronomy and space physics, Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Mass. “Information about the size and shape of a solar storm and data on its occurrence, intensity, and duration can be retrieved from other sources, but under current guidelines, this information could not be used by flight directors to take immediate action. These rules unnecessarily restrain ground-based flight directors because other valid data could be used to assist in avoiding radiation exposure.”

° Press release, National Research Council

° Full Report, National Research Council

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