Nasa said it will test the effects of a large fire in space by setting off a blaze inside an orbiting unmanned space craft.
Nasa has set off tiny controlled fires in space in the past, but never tested how large flames react inside a space capsule in space.
This research “is crucial for the safety of current and future space missions,” Gary Ruff, one of the engineers heading the experiment at the US space agency’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said Tuesday.
The goal is to measure the size of the flames, how quickly they spread, the heat output, and how much gas is emitted.
The experiment will be conducted in an Orbital ATK Cygnus capsule after the craft ferries supplies to the International Space Station.
The Cygnus capsule is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop an Atlas 5 rocket on its final mission on 23 March .
Once the capsule undocks from the ISS and is far away from the space station, ground control will trigger the fire on board, Ruff said.
The results of this experiment, dubbed Saffire-1, will determine how much fire resistance is needed in the ultra-light material used in the spacecraft and the astronaut’s gear.
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