February 3, 2017

Protection from cosmic radiation – German-Israeli space cooperation

  • ISA and DLR are cooperating in the development of a vest to protect astronauts from radiation.

On 31 January 2017, during the 12 International Ilan Ramon Space Conference, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation in the area of radiation protection for astronauts. The MoU was signed by Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board.

A radiation protection vest developed by the firm StemRad will be put through its paces during the test flight of the Orion space capsule, which is scheduled for 2018. During the unmanned flight, the vest will be worn by a doll developed by the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine. Named 'DLR - Matroshka', the human phantom is made of a type of plastic with a density identical to that of human tissue. In addition to the bones, numerous devices fitted inside the doll that will measure radiation exposure in various parts of the body. A second – unprotected – 'Matroshka' will also be on board of the Orion spacecraft to determine the protective effects of the suit.

Oren Milstein, Chief Executive Officer of StemRad, developed this concept for radiation protection in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It was originally designed as an extended belt for the lower abdomen, where most of the human bone marrow is located. "High-intensity ionised radiation destroys human bone marrow, which is essential for the production of blood. This leads to severe anaemia, infections and cancer," says Milstein. "Research has shown that protecting five percent of the bone marrow is enough to allow the blood to recover and regenerate."

The MoU between DLR and ISA was presented to Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israeli Space Agency, by Hubert Reile, Programme Director for Space Research and Technology at DLR.


Andreas Schütz

Head of Corporate Communications, DLR Spokesperson
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-2474

Sebastian Kleim

Strategy and International Relations
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center
Strategy and International Relations
Strategy and International Relations