NASA Are Preparing to Start in Fire Inside a Spacecraft

NASA are preparing to start a fire aboard the SS Robert H. Lawrence.
Image credit: NASA

NASA is preparing to conduct its fourth Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment (Saffire) aboard the SS Robert H. Lawrence.

In order to study how a fire would behave in microgravity, NASA has conducted a series of experiments over the last four years. Previous Saffire experiments have examined how fire behaves when cotton-fiberglass blends, flame retardant fabrics like those used to create clothing for astronauts, and plexiglass window samples are burnt in microgravity.

The fourth Saffire mission, dubbed Saffire-IV will be conducted aboard the Northrop Grumman SS Robert H. Lawrence Cygnus space freighter. Following an 83-day stay aboard the International Space Station, the uncrewed Cygnus spacecraft was undocked manually with the use of the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm on May 11.

According to a NASA outline of the mission, Saffire-IV will seek to build on previous experiments.

“Saffire-IV builds on these results by conducting flammability tests not only at 1 atm/21% O2 but also at reduced pressure and with oxygen concentrations greater than 21%. Fire detection, combustion product monitoring, and post-fire cleanup technologies planned for future spacecraft are also demonstrated.”

Although an exact date for the Saffire-IV has yet to be announced, it will be conducted before the SS Robert H. Lawrence performs a deorbit burn on May 29.

The insights gathered from these experiments will be invaluable when planning for future missions to the Moon and beyond.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.