RaD-X - Radiation Dosimetry Experiment

Feature: September 25, 2015

Watch Launch Video

RaD-X Successfully Launched on Friday 9/25/15 at 1:00pm ET!!!

NASA's Radiation Dosimetry Experiment, or RaD-X, is a high-altitude balloon project that will launch in September 2015. It will provide first-time indications of how cosmic rays deposit energy at the top of atmosphere - which produce showers of additional particles that increase the energy deposited where commercial airlines fly.


This experiment will improve NASA’s Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) model, which is currently used by public and private entities for informed decision-making about radiation exposure safety for flight crews, the general public, and commercial space operations.


The desire to train the next generation of leaders at NASA takes flight with the Radiation Dosimetry Experiment (RaD-X). While obtaining the first-ever, high-altitude dosimetric measurements of cosmic ray interaction in the upper atmosphere, RaD-X simultaneously enables 13 trainees to gain the real world first-hand practical flight mission and real-time training needed to make it all happen.


The RaD-X training is unique to LaRC in that it tightly integrates mentoring, coaching, and informal training with NASA’s formal Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership courses. The result is the creation of a customized, flexible, yet integratable, training approach that prepares the RaD-X team for mission success. The RaD-X missions returns energized, project-tested employees to LaRC and GSFC/WFF, with additional science and systems expertise to LaRC, radiation testing experience to ARC, and engineering approaches and scientific data from education and public outreach activities with Prairie View A&M.

NEWS: July 30, 2015

College Students Engage with the RaD-X Team

RaD-X Concept of Operations

RaD-X Flight Profile

System Testing Photos

NEWS: December 1, 2014

RaD-X Fabrication and Subsystem

Testing is Underway

RaD-X structure awaiting fit checks

Avionics box structure ready to integrate with flight computer

NEWS: July 3, 2014

RaD-X conducted a successful PDR on June 25.   The preliminary SRB report identified 15 RFA’s

Science Motivation Figure

RaD-X Instrument

RaD-X contributes to the NASA Heliophysics Division Living With A Star (LWS) Program’s Strategic Goal #1: improve prediction of biologically harmful radiation exposure to air travelers by enhancing the understanding of cosmic ray transport processes and interactions with the atmosphere


NASA LaRC has made significant advances in quantifying and documenting aircraft radiation exposure by developing the Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) model: the first real-time, global, physics-based model that includes both galactic cosmic ray and solar energetic particle sources of radiation exposure.


  • A critical step remains before NAIRAS can transition to operations at the NOAA National Weather Service: It must be verified & validated
  • RaD-X is an important next step in the V&V process -- collecting and processing data from the top of the atmosphere (TOA) that will constrain the model


NEWS: February 2014

RaD-X Completed Systems Requirements Review (SRR)

Amanda Cutright, RaD-X Chief Engineer