NASA recently set the skies alight as part of a controlled experiment

Written on 02/12/2021
Ciarán Mather

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed that it created a controlled fire onboard a spacecraft last month.

This experiment was part of the Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment-V (Saffire-V), which lasted for a total of 26 hours.

It involved sending the Cygnus spacecraft (pictured), which was filled with rubbish, out of Earth's atmosphere and then deliberately starting a fire onboard.

Cygnus later safely ignited in the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA monitored larger and more dynamic flames than most previous efforts to learn how fire operates in space.

The purpose of the experiment is to look into ways to better protect astronauts from fires.

Gary A. Ruff, Saffire project manager at NASA's Glenn Research Center, explained in a statement about the experiment: ' The Saffire-V data will allow us to model fire scenarios and increase our confidence in safety strategies.'

The experiment involved lowering the spacecraft pressure and filling it with oxygen similar to what humans may inhale inside future spacecraft. 

Sensors were embedded in the spacecraft, along with cameras, in order to measure temperature variations, oxygen levels and flame growth.

NASA has since said that it plans to fly another Saffire experiment to the space station.

However, the agency has not specified when this may happen or what the new experiment will entail.

NASA also made headlines recently when it was announced that its Perseverance probe is due to arrive on Mars soon.

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