The EU FP7 project SR2S (Space Radiation Superconducting Shield) held its final project event in the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels on 01 December 2015, to highlight the results of this three year research project. The EU FP7 funded project aimed to research technologies for a shielding mechanism to project astronauts from harmful radiation during deep space missions.
The event was hosted by the Italian Socialist and Democratic MEP Flavio Zanonato, and featured presentations by SR2S researchers from leading European industrial and research organisations; the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
Professor Roberto Battiston, SR2S project coordinator, was not present at the meeting because his presence was required at the launch of LISA-Pathfinder in his role as President of the Italian Space Agency. Professor Battiston’s presentation was delivered by Riccardo Musenich, SR2S Scientific and Technical Manager. He explained the cancer risks faced by astronauts on deep space missions, due to radiation exposure caused by Galactic Cosmic Rays. The presentation detailed different shielding structures explored during the SR2S project, and the achievement of the “pumpkin structure”. The pumpkin structure is an active shielding configuration which is lightweight and suitable for long duration deep space missions.
According to Professor Battiston: “Active radiation shielding for space exploration is a necessity. This project has demonstrated the potential for collaboration between European industrial and research partners. In order for this EU funded research to have maximum impact and to yield returns, informing policy makers of our innovative research is a priority. Today’s event, which was hosted by MEP Zanonato, allowed the project an important platform to explain the importance of this research and of European collaboration.”
Bertrand Baudouy of CEA presented the technological achievements of the SR2S project, focusing on the development of a superconducting cable, SR2S magnet protection, and the creation of an innovative cryogenic heatpipe. Mr. Baudouy explained the challenges and achievements in each of these domains in the context of an active radiation shield for astronauts on deep space missions. He concluded by highlighting the applicability of the superconducting magnet protection to any modular coil magnets, and the achievement of the longest cryogenic pulsating heat pipe.
Riccardo Musenich of INFN outlined the industrial developments and returns of SR2S project partners. During his presentation he captured the collaboration that resulted between project partners in the pursuit of a common goal. He highlighted the particular industrial returns for respective partners as a result of this collaboration. He stated that an important return of SR2S, not only for the industry but also for research institutes, is the training of young physicists and engineers and concluded by underlining their fundamental role in the SR2S project.
The discussion between the audience and panel members following the presentations addressed diverse issues. Panel members explained how the results of SR2S research can be further applied in the power generation and health domains. MEP Zanonato commented how SR2S research is integrated in EU space policy research, but that there is a need for support at political levels for this cooperation to continue.
MEP Zanonato is a full member of the EP Industry and Research Committee. He opened the event, remarking that only through research and its multiple applications is it possible to achieve a real economic recovery and deep socio-cultural development. Mr Zanonato also stressed the importance of supporting a coordinated and coherent European Space policy. In his closing remarks, MEP Zanonato commented on the significance of the SR2S project as it aim is to develop technologies and to prepare astronauts for missions that for now are not possible for humans.
SR2S is a three year project that will conclude at the end of 2015.