What can a couple of bored scientists do in order to pass the time? Set some spaceships on fire, of course. Joke aside, NASA has recently started a series of experiments aimed at studying how onboard fires react to microgravity and other space factors.
The experiment bears the name of Saffire, and according to the US-based space agency, a series of three similar tests were planned for the upcoming period. The three-part experiments will be conducted aboard the Cygnus, an unmanned space vehicle, constructed by Orbital ATK, a private company.
NASA declared that Saffire-I (the first part of the experiment) was successful and that the experiment produced a significant amount of data on how a fire behaves in space.
Right now, the North American space agency declared that the ground control team is preparing for the second part of the Saffire experiment. According to their statements, this is how the experiment will proceed.
The craft will be launched into space and guided towards the International Space Station. Once it clears Earth’s atmosphere, the ground control team will start a fire on board the private cargo ship by igniting a piece of cloth made from cotton-fiberglass.
The team said that the ignited material is relatively small in size, measuring five by thirty centimeters. In the previous experiment, the ground team managed to ignite a large piece of cotton-fiberglass material on board a different vessel.
The third and final stage of the experiment is scheduled for the 27th of November. During Saffire-III, the fire started on board the private cargo ship will be much bigger than in the second part of the experiment.
According to the scientists involved in the project, the fire that will be started as part of Saffire-III will be comparable to the one started during the first phase of the experiment.
So, apart from setting things on fire in the name of science, the ground control team want to assess how a fire behave in outer-space conditions. All data gathered during these experiments will be used in order to create fire procedures for future manned missions and possible to create fire suppression systems.
As a disclaimer, no shuttle has hurt during these experiments, as the scientists were able to extinguish the fires on time.
Image source: Wikipedia