Utah students among finalists to build radiation shield for NASA

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HERRIMAN, Utah -- Two Utah high school students and a Herriman High instructor make up one of five teams in the nation to be selected to build and test designs for radiation shielding for NASA's new Orion spacecraft.

Coppper Hills High 12th-grader Matthew Hansen, Riverton High 12th-grader Christian Lambert and Herriman High physics teacher Matthew Lund are the three members of "Team Aegis."

According to a press release from NASA, Team Aegis was one of 46 high school teams that submitted engineering notebooks with proposed radiation shield designs. The 46 proposals were then reviewed by NASA engineers and educators with NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace.

Team Aegis and teams from Illinois, California, Virginia and Kansas will move on to the next phase of the radiation shield project.

The next step for Team Aegis and the other four finalists will be to build prototypes of their designs, which engineers will test at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The winning design will be used on an "uncrewed" mission, designated Exploration Flight Test-1, that will be the first spaceflight test of the capsule that will one day carry astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.

NASA needs radiation shielding for the mission because the Orion spacecraft will spend a significant portion of its four-hour flight test exposed to the effects of the Van Allen Belt, a dense field of radiation that surrounds Earth.

The winning radiation shield will be used to protect a radiation sensor on the spacecraft.

The winning team will be announced in April and their design will be launched aboard the Orion spacecraft later this year.

Read the entire press release from NASA:

High School 'Final Five' Compete for Out-of-This-World Test on Orion

Five teams of high school student engineers have made it to the final round in a competition to build and test designs for radiation shields for NASA's new Orion spacecraft.

The competition is part of the Exploration Design Challenge (EDC), developed by NASA and Lockheed Martin, with support from the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA).

Forty-six teams submitted engineering notebooks with proposed radiation shield designs. After review by Orion engineers, as well as NASA and NIA educators, the five teams selected to move on to the next phase of the competition are:

-- Team Titan Shielding Systems of Illinois Math and Science Academy, Aurora, Ill.
-- Team ARES of Governor's School for Science and Technology, Hampton, Va.
-- Team Aegis of Herriman High School, Herriman, Utah
-- Team Erion of Erie High School, Erie, Kan.
-- Team LORE of Summit View High School, North Hollywood, Calif.

The high school teams were asked to design shielding to protect a radiation detector on Orion as it flies through the Van Allen Belt, a dense radiation field that surrounds the Earth. Because the belt begins 600 miles above Earth, no spacecraft built for humans has flown through it in more than 40 years. Orion, which will travel to an altitude of about 3,600 miles on its first flight test, will spend a significant portion of its four-hour mission exposed to the effects of the Van Allen Belt.

For the next phase of the competition, the final five teams will build prototypes of their designs, which will be tested by engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., before the winning design is chosen.

The winning team will be announced in April, and their design will be launched into space on Orion later this year. This uncrewed mission, designated Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), will be the first spaceflight test of the capsule that will one day carry astronauts to an asteroid and Mars.

NASA, the NIA and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the Orion program, unveiled the Exploration Design Challenge on March 11, 2013, to give students from kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight. The challenge encourages students in the U.S. and abroad to think and act like scientists and engineers to overcome one of the major hurdles for deep space long-duration exploration: protecting astronauts and hardware from the dangers of space radiation.

More than 125,000 students of all ages, from 81 countries around the world, have taken part in the challenge so far. Although the deadline has passed to take part in the high school competition, students in grades K-12 still have until June 30 to participate in other Exploration Design Challenge activities to have their name flown on board Orion.

To watch the announcement of the EDC high school finalists, visit:

http://new.livestream.com/viewnow/NASAEDC

For more information about the Exploration Design Challenge, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/education/edc

For information about Orion, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/orion