StemRad's cosmic ray suit. StemRad's cosmic ray suit. StemRad's cosmic ray suit set will be sent to Mars as part of the next trial flight of NASA's Orion satellite. (Photo: Dr. Oren Milstein.)

Take a look at the safety suit we'll wear on trips to Mars

Cosmic ray suit will head into space for testing in 2018.

A project involving space agencies around the world to land humans on Mars by 2021 will be sending the safety suit needed to get them into space.

The German Aerospace Center has announced the cosmic ray suit, developed by Israel's StemRad in partnership with American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, will be part of the next trial flight of NASA's Orion satellite, scheduled for 2018.

Germany is one of the countries involved in the mission and as such the German Aerospace Center has been tasked with researching the effects of deep space radiation on the human body.

The concept for the cosmic ray suit was originally developed for first responders in disaster zones by StemRad founders Dr. Oren Milstein and David Levitt. The two Israeli entrepreneurs who were inspired by what happened in Chernobyl and Fukushima. The idea was to create a suit that allowed for mobility and blocked harmful, highly penetrating gamma radiation that might be present.

Prior to StemRad's breakthrough, full-body shielding solutions were made with thin layers of material to allow for mobility. The problem with this was that they were only effective in blocking alpha and beta radiation, not highly harmful gamma rays.

What Milstein and Levitt did was create a solution that effectively blocked gamma radiation while still allowing for mobility. They did this by optimizing protection of the wearer’s midsection, where 50 percent of the body's bone marrow is located.

Why focus on bone marrow? Well, for the body to recover from the effects of radiation, biological regenerative processes must take place after exposure to it. The human tissue with the most regenerative potential? You guessed it – bone marrow.

Because astronauts traveling to Mars will face the same harmful radiation, it made perfect sense to apply the technology to deep space travel.

"Protecting 5% of the bone marrow is enough to generate recovery and renewal of the body's cells," said Millstein, who received his Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

The suit is admittedly still being fine-tuned. As part of the 2018 mission the Orion satellite will be sent to the moon with dummies on deck, some of which will be dressed in StemRad's protective suit and some of which will not.

Once the Orion returns to Earth, the dummies will be tested and adjustments will be made if necessary.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Science, Space

Take a look at the safety suit we'll wear on trips to Mars
The cosmic ray suit we'll wear to Mars will head into space for testing in 2018.