The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to create the biggest man-made fire in space in order to study how fire spreads in microgravity environments.
On Earth, where gravity is present, flames have a familiar structure, with heat rising and colder, denser air falling to the base. However, without gravity as the organizing principle, flames can be very unpredictable in space.
The “large-scale fire” will be ignited inside a cargo spaceship, after delivering food, supplies and hardware to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Cygnus cargo vehicle will be launched by Orbital ATK, NASA’s commercial partner, from Florida’s John F. Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.
Also known as Saffire, the “Spacecraft Fire Experiment I” begins two months later, when Cygnus is far enough from ISS on his way back to Earth.
During the experiment, researchers will remotely ignite a one by three-foot piece of material, a blend of…