Ionizing radiation represented one of the important hazards facing the first manned lunar mission. A combined USAF/NASA project was conducted from 1963 through 1969 to estimate the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of the radiations of space. Approximately 2000 primates (Macaca mulatta) and 5000 mice were irradiated with protons and electromagnetic radiations. The proton energies studied were selected to be representative of the proton spectrum in space. Much of the project was concerned with the use of cyclotrons for proton irradiations and with dosimetry. Biological measurements included clinical findings, physiological changes, hematological changes, histopathology, and mortality. When allowance was made for variation of response as a consequence of depth-dose distribution, the RBE for protons was approximately 1. This was anticipated from earlier theoretical studies and radiation therapy in humans with high-energy charged-particle beams.

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