- Associated Press - Saturday, December 13, 2014

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) - Two Oklahoma State University graduates are a part of the team for NASA’s Orion spacecraft flight test intended to ensure the safety of a future crew on flights possibly to Mars.

OSU said Razvan Gaza leads the Orion radiation protection program. He installed radiation area monitors in the capsule and worked on the capsule’s design while his wife, Ramona Gaza, will be analyzing the monitored radiation data.

Both were students of Regents Professor of Physics Stephen McKeever at OSU.

“The Orion launch on Dec. 5 was perhaps the most important event for NASA since the beginning of the Shuttle program,” McKeever said.

“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.”

The unmanned craft, with an OSU flag on board, flew 3,600 miles above the earth as it orbited twice during the four-and-a-half hour flight before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The spacecraft was being taken to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and data from 1,200 sensors inside and out of the crew module will be gathered to get the full picture of its performance.

The next Orion flight, also unmanned, is four years away, and flights with crew at least seven years away.

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