Overview:

NASA is seeking radiation protection technologies for wearable concepts for both the body and the head. In addition to having high radiation shielding effectiveness, the solution should be highly flexible and lightweight. NASA is considering a range of solutions, including new materials as well as designs and concepts to make existing materials more flexible and lightweight. Potential solution areas include body armor as well as technologies that have additional functionality around thermal regulation.

Background:

Three major types of radiation occur in space: charged particles trapped in the magnetic field (e.g. van Allen Belts), solar particle events (SPE) and galactic cosmic rays (GCR). SPE consist of medium to high energy protons, the largest doses of which occur during maximum solar activity. These events and the lack of accurate forecasting are potentially hazardous for astronauts in space and may expose crew to a hazardous radiation level. GCR are high-energy charged particles composed of protons, electrons, and fully ionized nuclei of light elements. Due to their high energy, GCR cannot be fully shielded and have the potential for inducing damage to human tissue and organs. It is vital to find technologies that can be utilized to protect astronauts from SPE radiation while they continue to perform tasks. A protection concept that could also augment the GCR protection provided by the spacecraft, perhaps by being stored in thinly shielded areas or by being worn while astronauts are sleeping, would be of additional value.

 

Required:

  • Lightweight/low mass
  • Flexible and comfortable enough to allow astronauts to complete daily tasks
  • Able to cover vital organs
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-toxic

 

Desired:

  • Radiation shielding effectiveness >1.5 g/cm2
  • Incorporates technology for passive thermal regulation (i.e. heating/cooling)
  • Can be multi-purpose or recycled for other applications in space

 

Possible Solution Areas:

  • Radiation shielding materials
  • Novel designs for making materials more flexible/comfortable
  • Advanced textiles
  • Body armor materials
  • Sporting goods equipment
  • Thermoregulation/passive cooling textile materials

 

Desired outcome of the solution:

Looking for partners who are willing to collaborate and develop radiation protection garments for NASA astronauts.

Field of use and intended applications:

Radiation protection in space