Two taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) on board China’s Tiangong space station carried out an experiment that seemed to be absolutely meaningless. They lit a candle with a match during a live broadcast. On Earth, lighting a match is a simple task, but on board the space station, this procedure is much more complicated and carries serious risks. Any open fire on board the space station is prohibited, so this experiment was extremely dangerous.
Dangerous games with fire
The astronauts’ attempt to light a candle in space was an interesting experiment that aimed to help researchers better understand the fire’s behavior in microgravity. When we light a candle on Earth, hot air rises up, forming a characteristic flame shape. However, in space, this process occurs differently — the flame is scattered in all directions, forming a fiery sphere.
China’s space agency assured that the Taikonauts were capable of putting out a fire in case of an emergency, but the risk still remained very high. There are very strict rules on board all space stations, which are created to ensure the safety of the crew and equipment.
NASA, for its part, has been conducting research on the behavior of fire in space conditions for several years. The fire safety experiments conducted by NASA (SAFFIRE) provide for controlled fires on board the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, which are carried out before its destruction in the Earth’s atmosphere. Situations that may arise if astronauts have to face a fire during a mission are simulated on board spacecraft.
Emergency situations in the history of cosmonautics
History also remembers incidents related to fires in space. In 1997, six crew members aboard the Russian space station Mir witnessed a fire that broke out in the oxygen production system. The fire was bright and spread rapidly, filling the station with acrid smoke and carbon monoxide. Thanks to the effective reaction of the crew, the fire was localized and extinguished, which prevented irreversible damage to the station.
Since then, a lot of research has been done to understand what factors can cause a fire in space. Security systems have been improved at the International Space Station, including an oxygen generation system that has redundant elements and a highly efficient fire detection and localization system.
Scented candles in space
After the Chinese astronauts completed their dangerous experiment, there is every reason to believe that the Chinese space agency also paid special attention to the security systems on board the Tiangong. This makes space travel even safer for people.
In addition, such an experiment with a candle can have additional advantages. Unpleasant odors accumulate in space due to the limited space, and candles can create a pleasant aroma, masking these odors and improving comfort on board the space station. Such experiments continue to help humanity better understand how to adapt to life in cold and hostile space.
Earlier we reported on how China wanted to get mutant plants on the space station.
According to Space
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