RMIT experiment on-board Swedish rocket launch

RMIT experiment on-board Swedish rocket launch

A new type of electromagnetic shield designed and manufactured at RMIT will be launched into space next week.

Researchers have designed an alternative to the plastic shields that are currently used in space missions.

The new prototype, which promises to be smaller, lighter and filter out more types of radiation, will be part of a launch by the Swedish Space Corporation.

The experiment – called RADICALS – has the capacity to fundamentally change how astronauts and electronics are protected from harmful radiation in space.

The researchers will launch a 10x10x10cm cube to measure radiation from space – up to 250km from the Earth’s surface.

The project is being led by RMIT space physicist Dr Gail Iles, an Associate Professor in Physics who has previously worked at the European Space Agency.

Dr Iles said the electromagnetic shield could have the dual benefit of making space travel safer and less costly.

“This shield has the potential to broaden the horizons of human spaceflight activities in space, which is an exciting development,” she said.

“First and foremost, it gets us closer to being able to survive the long missions to Mars, which would be a minimum 500-day mission and would require this sort of cutting-edge technology to be successful.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to support the Artemis missions, which are the first long-term missions to the Moon, with the aim of having a presence there for a significant period of time.”

“If we can create a suitable environment for the presence of humans on the Moon, the possibilities for humanity are endless.”

Iles, who will be flying to Sweden for the launch, said she was thrilled to be part of this moment in history.

“It’s exciting to be part of the launch of this sounding rocket – which is a rocket that doesn’t break apart but comes back down to Earth along with all the experiments inside of it. Hopefully, this launch can contribute to the next generation of human space exploration.”

Dr Iles is supported by RMIT’s Space Industry Hub, which connects local business and research to global opportunities in space technology.

The RMIT Space Industry Hub is also part of the ELO2 consortium in the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Trailblazer program, which aims to land the rover on the Moon as part of a future NASA Artemis mission later this decade. The team is bidding to play a key role in designing and manufacturing what could be Australia’s first lunar rover.

Story by: Finn Devlin

23 February 2024


23 February 2024


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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.