As preparations continue for interplanetary missions, scientists are to solve the core technical problem of protecting interplanetary space crews from deep-space radiation, said Lev Zelyony, the Russian Academy of Sciences' vice president and head of the Academy's Space Research Institute.

A flight to the Moon, to say anything of a flight to Mars, is a far more difficult endeavor that fights on near-earth orbits. While working on International Space Station orbit space crews remain under the umbrella of the Earth's magnetic field, which basically protects all of us from space radiation," he said.

"But once we break beyond our planet's magnetic field, a new factor emerges - deep-space radiation which we will have to tackle," Zelyony said.

Long-duration expeditions to the ISS are extremely important in forging technical and biomedical solutions for creating a reliable radiation shielding to the crews of interplanetary spacecraft, he said.

Zelyony supported the federal space agency Roscosmos's proposal for nominating the ISS project for Nobel Peace Prize.

"Cooperation in space is evolving into a very important factor. The ISS is perhaps the most vivid symbol of this trend," the academician said.

Cooperation in space involves data exchanges and "the construction of a high-cost sophisticated technical facility. It could only have been built in a joint effort," Zelyony said.

Russia is an equitable participant in the ISS project, he said.

"Not all space projects with Russia's participation are like this. Quite often Russia plays the role of a ferry operator for putting complex and expensive foreign satellites into orbit. The ISS is a totally different project in which Russia is playing a leading role," Zelyony said.

"ISS missions give birth to purely friendly human relationships. People who have traveled to space together remain tied to each other for the rest of their lives," he said.

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