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J.D. Harrington/Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-5241/1979)

June 29, 2005
RELEASE : 05-168
NASA Funds Space Radiation Research Proposals
NASA selected 21 space radiation research proposals for funding. Approximately $19 million will be spent on the research to support the Vision for Space Exploration.

The goal of NASA's Space Radiation Program is to ensure humans can safely live and work in space. Safely means acceptable risks are not exceeded during crews' lifetime. Acceptable risks include limits on post and multi-mission consequences, such as excess lifetime fatal cancer vulnerability.

Exposure to radiation during space flight is unavoidable. Space radiation penetrates the crew, spacesuits, spacecraft, habitats, and equipment. The interaction of radiation with materials changes both; and the interaction with living organisms leads to potentially harmful health consequences. The consequences include tissue damage, cancer, cataracts, electronic upsets, and material degradation.

Space radiation is distinct from terrestrial forms. Space radiation is comprised of high-energy protons, heavy ions and their secondaries produced in shielding and tissue. Since there are no human epidemiological data for these radiation types, risk estimation is derived from mechanistic understanding. The estimates are based on radiation physics, molecular, cellular, and tissue biology related to cancer and other risks.

NASA received 115 responses to the request for proposals issued on August 24, 2004. Proposals were peer-reviewed by scientific and technical experts from academia, government, and industry. The 21 proposals will seek to reduce the uncertainties in risk predictions, including cancer, degenerative tissue damage, cataracts, hereditary, fertility, and sterility. They also cover acute risks and development of effective shielding or biological countermeasures for them.

For a list of grant recipients on the Internet, visit:

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