What are the Risks of Radiation for Humans in Space?

Human travelers to Mars face many challenges. One of the biggest unknowns is exactly what effect radiation from the Sun and cosmic rays will have on the human body for the 1,000 days a journey to Mars might take. If the risk turns out to be high, there are methods that could cut down the amount of radiation humans might receive on the journey. One method could be to build parts of the spacecraft out of plastic, which absorbs radiation 20% better than aluminum; liquid hydrogen, which would be needed for fuel absorbs cosmic rays 2.5 times better.

Scientific Equipment Headed to the Station

A Russian-built Progress spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome today atop a Soyuz booster. Mission 13P is carrying a full load of supplies and scientific equipment and will reach the International Space Station within two days. The spaceship will deliver two dummies designed to measure the long-term effects of space radiation on the human body; one will be attached to the outside of the station to get a direct exposure. The station’s previous Progress ship was detached on Wednesday to make room.

Four New Space-Related Bills Passed

Image credit: Scaled Composites The US government passed four new bills by voice vote that promote space and astronomy. The Commercial Space Act of 2003 hopes to better regulate commercial space launches, such as sub-orbital tourist flights. The Charles `Pete’ Conrad Astronomy Awards Act will encourage amateur astronomers to help spot potential Earth-crossing asteroids. The …

NASA Highlights New Ways to Journey Through Space

Image credit: NASA As everybody knows, chemical rockets are too slow for space exploration. So, to speed up voyages around our Solar System, NASA is working on some new kinds of propulsion: ion engines, solar and plasma sails. Perhaps the most efficient will be hybrid systems, with different kinds of propulsion used at different points …