Understanding how fire spreads in a microgravity environment is critical to the safety of astronauts who live and work in space. And while NASA has conducted studies aboard the space shuttle and International Space Station, risks to the crew have forced these experiments to be limited in size and scope.
Now a new experiment, designed, built and managed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, will ignite an understanding of microgravity fire on a much larger scale. The Spacecraft Fire Experiment, known as Saffire, is a series of experiments to be launched on three different flights beginning in March.
“A spacecraft fire is one of the greatest crew safety concerns for NASA and the international space exploration community,” says Gary Ruff, Saffire project manager.
Saffire will involve far larger flames than previous experiments and will investigate the way fire spreads on a variety of combustible materials. Because the experiments will be conducted away from the space station, there is no risk to the astronauts aboard.
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