CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - NASA engineers in Ohio and Virginia have successfully ignited the largest fire experiment in space.
Engineers at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia, conducted the experiment. Saffire I was the first remote Spacecraft Fire Experiment carried inside an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle that department from the International Space Station on Tuesday.
The experiment's purpose is to learn how a fire might behave in a spacecraft after leaving Earth's atmosphere.
Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space as NASA prepares for long duration missions on the journey to Mars.
"The first of our planned three Saffire experiments operated as designed which is a great credit to all the people at NASA who played a role in its development," said Gary A. Ruff, NASA's Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration Project manager. "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."
Launched to the space station on March 22, Saffire remained in Cygnus for 81 days as supplies were offloaded by the station's crew. After the supplies were offloaded and replaced with space station trash, Cygnus departed.
Cygnus was then maneuvered a safe distance from the space station before the experiment began.
The Saffire experiment took place in a 3-foot by 3-foot by 5-foot tall module. Images and data captured from inside will be sent back to earth in the coming days. Researchers at Glenn and 10 other U.S. and international government agencies and universities will then analyze the data.
Two subsequent flight experiments consist of Saffire-II, which will assess oxygen flammability limits, and Saffire-III, which will assess a second large-scale microgravity fire.
Each module will be flown aboard an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle during a resupply mission to the space station.
To follow updates from NASA's Saffire experiment, click or tap here.
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