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Guest: Dr. Frank Cucinotta; Topics: Dr. Cucinotta provided us with a comprehensive discussion regarding human spaceflight, settlement and radiation. Be sure to read his paper on our blog, "A proposed change to astronaut exposures limits is a giant leap backwards for radiation protection." Also see his YouTube presentation on low dose radiation @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2zIVm1ZwuY.
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We welcomed Dr. Frank Cucinotta back to the show for updates on radiation and human spaceflight. Be sure to read his Open Source paper per above which has been uploaded to our blog. In addition, later in the program, Dr. Cucinotta talked about low dose radiation risks and mentioned a YouTube video from a Chicago 2018 discussion on the risks associated with it. I suggest you see the very entertaining 3 minute plus video which is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2zIVm1ZwuY.
In starting this discussion, we first referred to his open source paper that largely addressed the NAS report from earlier this year advocating making dose limits for astronauts simpler. For example, they have advised standardizing the limits regardless of gender, age, or other human classifications. Our guest does not support these changes and has articulated his case against the changes in the paper and throughout our discussion. In talking standardizing the human radiation dose risks, our guest spent time explaining the radiation assumption of risk, the 3% fatality number, the different types of radiation and the risks associated with them, shielding per today's technology, plus a short course on how radiation damages the human body. While our guest said he might be supportive of changing the 3% risk factor to 5%, there were quite a few caveats in that part of the discussion so listen to all of it so you don't take his higher risk tolerance out of context. We did take in several email questions during this part of the discussion (and other parts as well) inquiring about dose differences for women, age, and men. I even asked about older people having less radiation risks which has had some suggesting older people should be sent to Mars. Our guest fully explained the older person less radiation risk issue so be sure to listen to it. You will likely be surprised by what our guest had to say on this topic.
Listeners inquired about private entrepreneurial companies and their capability to do cutting edge radiation research or did they need taxpayer funded government research to help out. Once again, listen to how Frank responded to this line of questions plus what he said about the need for and availability of special government labs such as Brookhaven. I suggest you post your opinions on private funding for space radiation research on our blog. Let us know what you think. This discussion did evolved to government having a say about astronauts taking radiation risks for spaceflight. Our guest thought that for taxpayer funded missions, government should and would play a role in who goes to Mars and elsewhere, when, and how. For privately funded missions and trips with civilian astronauts, he was more open to more risk assumption by the parties involved.
Skipping forward to a later point in our discussion, we started talking about space settlements and the introduction of children to a space settlement, even pregnancy, giving birth, and raising small kids in space. Our guest had lots and lots to say about this subject but eventually said it came down to ethics and it was not ethical to have kids in space, pregnancy, childbirth, and anything related to it. He cited the percentages and stats for radiation risks for small children and even for fetal development. We spent lots of time on space settlements in general, children in space, even equatorial orbits with lower radiation. For sure you do not want to miss this part of our discussion. Note what our guest said about space settlement with adults. Also his reality check for being on Mars and what one would have to do for protection on Mars. Hear what he said about being on the lunar surface, even in shelters.
Marshall called us twice to talk about crop and food radiation plus radiation differences and tolerances for animals. Marshall was the caller that raised the question about possibilities for low equatorial orbit with lower radiation. Our guest said it would not be good for science but listen to his explanation. In addition he mentioned the lack of commercial viability for that location but do listen to all he had to say on this type of orbit as a possibility for settlement.
Before closing, our guest talk about Gina Laws, then he quickly addressed the racial makeup of humans in space and their radiation tolerance differences. He stressed ethics throughout the discussion. Before ending, he talked some more about Brookhaven and mentioned their safety training which includes constantly having to upgrade and stay current with multiple written tests. Before ending, he cited the YouTube debate on low dose radiation from a Chicago conference in 2018. Once again, you can see the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2zIVm1ZwuY.
Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Dr. Cucinotta through me or his faculty page at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.