The StemRad vest for space use was developed based on the principle of selective protection vital organs that are particularly sensitive to radiation exposure.
NASA and the Israel Space Agency have signed an agreement for the use of the AstroRad radiation protection vest, produced by the Israeli company StemRad. NASA 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.
NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Israel Space Agency Director Avi Blasberger signed the agreement today, April 17th, during the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado.
"AstroRad" was developed by Israeli company StemRad following the success of its first product, which is now widely used among first responders in the world– a belt for the use of "First Respondents" that protects the pelvis, ensuring survival of critical bone marrow stem cells. 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 due to the formation of cancer, such as lung, breast, stomach, colon and ovaries. As women are particularly vulnerable to space radiation, the first step is an adapted suit for women.
In addition, the Israel Space Agency will 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 ISS 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.
Minister of Science Ofir Akunis said: "Israeli technology in space exploration is known as innovative, resulting from ‘out of the box’ thinking. We are proud to provide this technological breakthrough and become partners of one of the most exciting experiments of mankind 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 towards understanding the benefit provided by AstroRad. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will contribute their "Matroshka" human model, containing thousands of radiation detectors, which will launch as part of the EM-1 flight. “Matroshka” will wear the AstroRad vest alongside a "Matroshka" without a vest. Upon the return of Orion to Earth, teams from NASA, DLR and ISA will perform a comparative analysis on the efficacy of AstroRad.