by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 16, 2016
NASA said it will test the effects of a large fire in space by setting off a blaze inside an orbiting unmanned space craft.
NASA has set off tiny controlled fires in space in the past, but never tested how large flames react inside a space capsule in space.
This research "is crucial for the safety of current and future space missions," Gary Ruff, one of the engineers heading the experiment at the US space agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said Tuesday.
The goal is to measure the size of the flames, how quickly they spread, the heat output, and how much gas is emitted.
The experiment will be conducted in an Orbital ATK Cygnus capsule after the craft ferries supplies to the International Space Station.
The Cygnus capsule is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop an Atlas 5 rocket on its final mission on March 23.
Once the capsule undocks from the ISS and is far away from the space station, ground control will trigger the fire on board, Ruff said.
The results of this experiment, dubbed Saffire-1, will determine how much fire resistance is needed in the ultra-light material used in the spacecraft and the astronaut's gear.
It will also help NASA build better fire detection and suppression systems for their spaceships, and study how microgravity and limited amounts of oxygen affect the size of the flames.
"Understanding fire in space has been the focus of many experiments over the years," said Ruff.
While many "small, centimeter-sized fires have been lit in space before, to really understand fire, you've got to look at a more realistic size."
Temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide sensors will record data on the fire, which is expected to last about 20 minutes, in real time. Cameras also will film the material as it burns.
A few days after the blaze, NASA expects the remnants of the Cygnus capsule to plunge towards Earth and disintegrate in the atmosphere.
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|