Playing with fire: NASA set a fire on a spacecraft for the last time

NASA has announced the completion of a series of experiments on the Saffire program. Their goal was to study the behavior of fire in microgravity.

In total, during the eight years of the program’s existence, NASA carried out 19 experiments with fire. They were carried out on board Cygnus supply vehicles after they undocked from the ISS and were preparing to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Saffire facility used for the experiments was a wind tunnel through which air was passed. After the conditions necessary for the test were set in it, the specialists let an electric current through a thin wire, which led to the ignition of the studied materials. Among them were plexiglass, cotton, Nomex and various hard fabrics.

The last experiment differed from the previous ones in that a higher oxygen concentration and lower pressure were created in the facility. This was required to better simulate conditions inside a crewed spacecraft. Cameras installed inside the facility allowed the specialist to observe the flames, and sensors outside collected data on what was happening in Cygnus.

According to scientists, the experiments have allowed them to collect a huge array of data to simulate what will happen inside the spacecraft in the event of a fire. This data will be used to improve crew safety, which is especially important given NASA’s plans to organize manned missions to deep space and the Moon.

Earlier, we talked about how NASA’s experimental antenna tracked a laser message from deep space.

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