College of Arts & Sciences

OSU Grads Ensuring Safety for Orion Crew

Two former Oklahoma State University graduate students played integral roles in last week’s Orion spacecraft flight test to ensure the safety of the crew. Razvan Gaza worked on the design of the Orion capsule while Ramona Gaza will be analyzing data from the test for NASA’s Space Radiation Analysis Group. An OSU flag was on board for Orion’s maiden voyage. 

“The Orion launch on Dec. 5 was perhaps the most important event for NASA since the beginning of the Shuttle program,” said Dr. Stephen McKeever, director of the National Energy Solutions Institute and Regents Professor of Physics at OSU.  “It represents the first step towards NASA’s re-exploration of the Moon and the eventual exploration of Mars. Assessing the effects of radiation on the crew is a vital aspect of space exploration and the work of Ramona and Razvan Gaza and their colleagues is essential to the success of the program.” 

Razvan Gaza is the lead on the Orion radiation protection program.  He installed the radiation area monitors (RAM) in the capsule and worked on the design of the capsule to protect the future crew from radiation.  

The RAM includes radiation detectors (called OSLDs) that were produced in Stillwater by former OSU physicist, Mark Akselrod, now at Landauer, and uses a method developed by McKeever and Akselrod group at OSU.

Ramona Gaza, who earned her Ph.D. in physics in 2005, works at Johnson Space Center as a contractor in the Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG) and will be analyzing the monitored radiation data for the group. Razvan and Ramona, who are married, both graduated from McKeever’s group in the Department of Physics.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is designed to carry humans farther into space than ever before.  Last Friday’s flight test was a two-orbit, four-and-a-half-hour flight meant to give NASA an opportunity to evaluate many of the capsule’s systems most critical to safety.