obtain data from repeated, increasingly longer periods of exposure—a condition absolutely crucial to this type of research. Finally, losing this capability would seriously damage the research program of the recently established NASA Specialized Center for Research and Training (NSCORT) in Space Radiation Health at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and contribute to the loss of expertise in basic radiobiological research—an outcome that would be contrary to the conclusion reached in NASA's Space Radiation Health Program Plan.2

There is an acute need for additional well-trained and well-qualified researchers in space radiation physics and biology. A continuous supply of trained space researchers needs to be developed and adequate numbers of trained personnel need to be available to enable program expansion. (p. 30)

Various heavy-ion facilities exist worldwide that could, theoretically, support the type of space-related research under way at Berkeley. However, the SSB and CSBM have no evidence that any of these facilities could be made available to support NASA's HZE radiation research program. The BNL Booster at Brookhaven National Laboratory has limited capability, and no beam time will be available until a new irradiation facility is built. The Darmstadt accelerator has provisions for cell research but not for animal research, and beam time at the facility is currently oversubscribed by a factor of two. The JINR at Dubna has obsolete equipment, low beam intensity, and beam contamination—significant limiting factors. The Synchrophasotron at Saclay has no provisions for conducting animal or cell research, and at least a year would be required to prepare the facility to provide iron beams. Beams generated at the facility at Geneva are beyond the energy range required by NASA researchers. Finally, the accelerator at Chiba is not yet in operation and will not produce iron ion particles.

Understanding that the NASA-sponsored research at the BEVALAC may be relatively minor in the context of the Department of Energy's (DOE) overall mission, the SSB and CSBM believe that the decision to decommission this facility should be considered in the context of the importance of the BEVALAC to the U.S. space program—one in which DOE plays an increasing role.3 Until a suitable alternative can be provided that supports research related to long-term plans for human space exploration, the SSB and CSBM urge that the BEVALAC remain available to NASA researchers. Given the importance of the radiobiological research conducted at the BEVALAC and its fundamental role in realizing the national goal of human space exploration, the SSB and CSBM strongly recommend that DOE and NASA agree on a means for continuing without interruption the capability now provided by the BEVALAC.

Signed by

Louis J. Lanzerotti

Chair, Space Studies Board

and

Fred W. Turek

Chair, Committee on Space Biology and Medicine

Excerpts and Recommendations Concerning Biological Effects of Radiation Exposure

It is critical for NASA to formalize agreements to utilize one or more of the federal accelerator facilities, and to assure that those facilities remain in operation until necessary ground-based research is completed.

—Aerospace Medicine Advisory Committee/NASA Advisory Council, Strategic Considerations for Support of Humans in Space and Moon-Mars Exploration Missions, Life Sciences Research and Technology Programs. 1992.

2  

Space Radiation Health Program Plan, Life Support Branch, Life Sciences Division, NASA, Washington, D.C., November 1991.

3  

National Space Policy Directive for Space Exploration Initiative Strategy, Section III, paragraphs c and d, March 13, 1992.



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