Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Kira Abercromby


As space technologies continue to develop rapidly, there is a common desire to launch astronauts beyond the ISS to return to the Moon and put human footsteps on Mars. One of the largest hurdles that still needs to be addressed is the protection of astronauts from the radiation environment seen in deep space. The most effective way to defend against radiation is increasing the thickness of the shield, however this is limited by strict mass requirements. In order to increase the thickness of the shield, it is beneficial to make mission critical items double as shielding material.

The human rated Orion spacecraft has procedures in place for astronauts to create an emergency bunker using food and water in the event of a forewarned radiation storm. This can provide substantial support to defend against radiation storms when there is an adequate amount of warning time, however, fails to protect against Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) or Solar Particle Events (SPE) without sufficient warning. Utilizing these materials as a permanent shielding method throughout the mission could be a beneficial alternative to the Orion programs current protection plan to provide constant safety to the crew.

This thesis analyzes the effect in the radiation dosage seen by astronauts in the Orion Crew Module through use of on-board water as a permanent shielding fixture. The primary method used to analyze radiation is NASA’s OLTARIS (On-Line Tool for the Assessment of Radiation In Space) program, which enables users to input thickness distributions to determine a mission dosage profile. In addition this thesis further develops a ray tracing code which enables users to import male and female models into the vehicle model to produce gender specific radiation dosage results. The data suggests the permanent inclusion of water as a shielding material provides added support for GCR as well as SPE radiation that can extend the mission lifetime of humans in space.