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NASA Set To Test New Radiation-Shielding Vests On Lunar Flyby Mission

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06/03/2017 15:31 GMT | Updated 06/03/2017 16:09 GMT

In the mid-2030s, NASA will send astronauts to Mars in what’s likely to be the most dramatic mission since Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon.

During the 250 million mile voyage, the team will face many perils, not least of which is solar radiation: an onslaught of deadly particles from the Sun.

But now a NASA contractor has unveiled a revolutionary radiation-shielding vest designed to protect astronauts on that mission – and it’s ready for real-world trials.

StemRad’s chief executive told Reuters the vest will be tested in NASA’s lunar flyby mission late next year.

Amir Cohen / Reuters
A sculpture of a man wearing Stemrad's new protective vest.

The tailor-made vests use non-metallic materials to shield the astronauts’ organs from harmful, radioactive particles. 

During the mission, the vest will be strapped to a device that can monitor radiation absorption and then be compared to an unprotected monitor.

“This product will enable human deep space exploration. Our breakthrough has come in creating the architecture of the multi-layered shield to accurately cover the most important organs,” Milstein told the news agency

Amir Cohen / Reuters

The CEO said the concept had been proven in the lab, but to be 100 per cent sure, would be sent up on NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and Lockheed Martin.

As it stands, it will be an unmanned mission. But NASA is considering the viability of sending two astronauts.

Reuters reported that NASA had “no immediate comment” on how the test would be affected if the mission does become manned.

It’s not the only lunar flyby set to take place next year. Space X announced last week that it’s going to fly two tourists around the moon in 2018.

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