National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for the first time, will experiment on how fires grow in space by firing the unmanned cargo ship from the International Space Station. It will be the first of three planned NASA experiments on testing the spread of flames on microgravity.
NASA billed the biggest intentionally bright blaze in space in an Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship, which got released from the station early Tuesday. This experiment was done to understand how flame propagates in weightlessness.
During the NASA TV interview, David Urban said, “For many years we have tried to find a vehicle as well circumstances where it could work, but initially all the reaction were ‘not in my spacecraft’, but now it does look like its going somewhere.”
The test craft called the Spacecraft Fire Experiment or Saffire is a solar powered cargo ship, which had 4,087 pounds of trash loaded in it. The module contained a 38-inch by 19-inch (97 cm by 49 cm) cotton and fiberglass material sample, and the fire was remotely ignited by using a hot wire.
The Scientists made sure that the module was a safe distance from the International Space Station and finally on Tuesday, it released the capsule into the Earth orbit. The craft is scheduled to remain in the Earth orbit until June 22 to ensure that data was collected before it disintegrates while falling to Earth over the Pacific Ocean. This final moment of Saffire will get recorded by sensors designed to document how the spacecraft breaks apart.
NASA had also previously conducted some experiments on fire, but it was only limited to samples which were no bigger than an index card. In the coming times, NASA has planned two more Saffire experiments about future Cygnus spacecraft.