Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Kira Jorgensen Abercromby


The purpose of this study is to improve spacecraft shielding from radiation in space. It focuses on the evaluation of shielding efficiency of different materials. The efficiency of a shield is evaluated by the dose profile within the shield and the amount of dose absorbed by a target using the Monte Carlo transport code called FLUKA. The output of this code is validated by recreating the experiments from published papers and comparing the results. Once the FLUKA’s output is validated, the efficiency of sixteen materials, subject to SPE and GCR sources, are evaluated. The efficiency comparison is made by fixing the area density of a shield. It was found that polyethylene, water, carbon and silicon outperform aluminum – the primary metal used in spacecraft. In case of composite shield, made of layers of different materials, the 3Carb-9Al combination has better performance than the shield made just of aluminum. This holds true for both Solar Particle Events (SPEs) and Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR). However, the choice of material is more efficient at shielding from SPE particles rather than from GCR. In case of GCR, the choice of materials is found to have rather small effect on the efficiency of a shield. The percent difference between the rate of dose absorption by a target, shielded by different materials, is within about 9%. Secondary particles make a significant contribution to the target’s dose. For SPEs, the secondary particles are primarily electrons and neutrons. For GCRs, the secondary particles are primarily pions, α-particles and electrons. Protons contribute more than 50% to the target’s dose in both cases.