How Does Fire Behave In Space? NASA Experiment Reveals

Posted: Jun 21 2016, 12:55am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 21 2016, 9:20pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

How Fire Behaves in Space, NASA Experiment Reveals
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NASA has released the first two videos of Spacecraft Fire Experiment or Staffire, in short. The experiment is intended to learn how fire spreads in microgravity conditions in space.

NASA has released the first two videos of a large fire that was ignited inside a space cargo ship recently. The purpose of the experiment was to learn how fire behaves in space. Getting insight into how fire spreads in microgravity conditions is necessary for the safety and protection of the astronauts working on the International Space Station and other missions in space. This will ultimately help astronauts to tackle any such unfortunate event in a better way in the future.

The first video, released by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, shows smoke trails are flowing uniformly before the material catches fire.

The second video shows the main experiment when the material is burnt and orange flames can be seen stretching out of it. The entire burning lasted for approximately eight minutes.

This is the first of the three experiments collectively named Saffire which will be conducted over the course of three flights of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo capsule. These experiments will be remotely operated inside a module, which is split into two compartments. One contains cotton and fiberglass material which is the sample to be burned while the other carries sensors and high-definition video cameras to record the whole process.

Previous to the experiment, the largest fire experiment that had been conducted in space was no bigger than the index card. Since the experiment was conduced away from the ISS, it posed no hazards for astronauts in space.

“The success of this experiment opens the door to future large combustion experiments in the microgravity environment and directly supports the development of technologies and materials that will make deep space exploration spacecraft safer.” Gary A. Ruff, NASA’s Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration Project manager said.

After the fabrics and materials are burnt, the cargo capsule will continue to orbit Earth for around eight days. It will send high resolution imagery and data back to the center before entering the atmosphere of the Earth and turning into debris.

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