NASA conducts largest space-fire test


The biggest space-fire experiment ever conducted has been completed by NASA.

NASA successfully burned a piece of cotton-fiberglass payload 1.3ft wide by 3.3ft long (0.4m by 1m) on June 14. This test was the first stage of the Spacecraft Fire Experiment, or Saffire-1. Before this test, the largest deliberately-set fire that burned in space was just the size of an index card, said NASA officials.

The uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft, a cargo vessel built by Orbital ATK, departed from the International Space Station (ISS) after nearly three-months in space.

More data and high-resolution photos will continue to be relayed from the freighter until its intentional burn-up in Earth’s atmosphere on June 22.

Saffire-1 was the first of three related experiments that will be performed aboard Cygnus vehicles on their way back to Earth. The overall goal is to learn more about how fires spread in microgravity, so that future spacecraft can be designed as safely as possible.

Saffire-2 will burn samples just 2in wide by 12in long (5cm by 30cm), and Saffire-3 will ignite a large-scale fire in space. NASA says Saffire-2 and Saffire-3 are scheduled to fly this year.

June 16, 2016

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