Radiation would kill the Apollo astronauts.

Many conspiracists believe that NASA never left the Earth’s atmosphere, because of the amount of radiation in The Van Allen radiation belt would kill an astronaut. But with help from other sources (thanks clavius moon base) We can determine if this is true. The American legal radiation limit below are a helpful.

If a worker must deal with radioactive materials in the course of his job, his legal limit is higher: 5 rem (50 millisieverts, mSv) per year. If a worker is in the vicinity of radioactive materials but does not work with them, the limit is 0.1 rem (1 mSv). For persons younger than 18 and pregnant women, the occupational exposure is 0.5 (5 mSv) per year. These are measurements above the natural background radiation limits, and are measured by dosimeters and other equipment in the area where the exposure takes place. (Standards for Protection Against Radiation. 10 CFR § 20.)

People usually get about 0.24 rem (2.4 mSv) in background radiation per year. (Jawororwski, Zbigniew. “Radiation Risks in the 20th Century: Reality, Illusions, and Risks” Presented 17 Sept. 1998 at the International Curie Conference, Warsaw, Poland.)

The standard for a lethal dose is designated LD 50/30, defined as the short-term exposure (i.e. over a period of a few hours or less) which would kill 50% of the humans exposed within 30 days. It’s around 350-400 rems (3.5-4.0 Sv). (Radiation Safety Office. Radiation Safety Handbook. Columbia University, s.d.)

As shown above the legal limit is 700 times less than a harmful dose. The reason for this strictness is that there is no such thing as ‘safe’ radiation, it’s just the body heals the DNA damage etc… more efficiently if less damage is sustained.

By looking at other sources and the official NASA info, the amount of radiation that the astronauts were subjected to, was 2 rems, for each time the astronaut went into space. See The Van Allen Belts and Travel to the Moon and radiation and the van allen belts for two of many sources I used.

See our Apollo Moon Landing Forum.

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