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Fire In Space! Ignition Started In A Cargo Ship In Line With SAFFIRE II Experiment

Nov 22, 2016 04:48 AM EST

There's a fire in space and was it on purpose inside a cargo ship. The fire is in line with NASA's space-fire experiments called SAFFIRE aboard the Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

The Cygnus spacecraft delivered goods to the International Space Station (ISS). But before its scheduled burn that will obliterate the spacecraft during re-entry, a space fire experiment was conducted inside its cabin. The experiment is called NASA Spacecraft Fire Experiement II (SAFFIRE-II).

Cygnus departed the ISS on Nov. 21 after staying in space for almost a month. The recent experiment was the second installment of the three-part experiment. Last June 14, SAFFIRE I was conducted. This series of experiment are being conducted to benefit the crew on the future journey to Mars.

The goal of the experiment is to understand how fires move in microgravity. This is vital to the safety of astronauts when NASA and other private space flight companies launches to depths farther away from the low-Earth orbit such as Mars.

The first SAFFIRE experiment used cotton fiberglass cloth and had set the record of the first intentional fire in space. With SAFFIRE 2, many different materials will be used. "The nine samples in the experiment kit include a cotton-fiberglass blend, Nomex and the same acrylic glass that is used for spacecraft windows," a NASA official said in a statement.

Compared to the first experiment, the second fire in space uses bigger samples that measure 2 inches (5 centimeters) by 12 inches long (30 centimeters). The size progress based on the level of the experiment; the third installment will burn even bigger materials.

The cargo ships used for both experiments are made by Orbital ATK. The experiments are perfectly timed with Cygnus cargo transport to the ISS. The burning of materials takes place after every Cygnus mission to space.

The spacecraft that carried SAFFIRE II materials reached the ISS on Oct. 23. Orbital ATK's disposable cargo ship is expected to remain in orbit until Nov. 27 before controllers initiate its fiery death meeting the Earth's atmosphere.


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