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STATION NEWS
NASA Ignites Fire Experiment Aboard Space Cargo Ship
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Jun 19, 2016


This image shows the pre-flight Saffire-I sample lit by green LEDs as it will appear during flight. The flow duct and avionics bay are open for testing. For a larger version of this image please go here.

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. Fire safety will be a critical element as NASA progresses on the journey to Mars and begins to investigate deep space habitats for long duration missions.

The Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire) is a three-part experiment that will be conducted over the course of three flights of Orbital ATK's Cygnus vehicle to investigate large-scale flame spread and material flammability limits in long duration microgravity.

The Saffire-I experiment enclosure is approximately half a meter wide by 1 meter deep by 1.3 meter long and consists of a flow duct and avionics bay. Inside the flow duct is the sample to be burned which is a cotton-fiberglass material blend 0.4 m wide by 1 meter long. When commanded by Orbital ATK and Saffire ground controllers operating from Dulles, VA, it will be ignited by a hot wire. Previous to this experiment, the largest fire experiment that has been conducted in space is about the size of an index card.

After the experiment has been ignited, the Cygnus will continue to orbit Earth for up to eight days as it transmits high-resolution imagery and data from the Saffire experiment. Following complete data transmission, the Cygnus spacecraft will complete its destructive entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

?Saffire-I launched inside the Cygnus spacecraft atop the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V launch vehicle on March 22, 2016. Space Station Crew members successfully grappled Cygnus to the space station on March 26. The Saffire experiments were developed at NASA Glenn Research Center by the Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration Project and sponsored by the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

AES pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities, and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond low-Earth orbit. AES activities are uniquely related to crew safety and mission operations in deep space, with a strong focus on future vehicle development.


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Previous Report
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Cygnus spacecraft begins next phase of OA-6 mission
Dulles VA (SPX) Jun 19, 2016
Orbital ATK reports that the "S.S. Rick Husband" Cygnus spacecraft has departed from the International Space Station at 9:30 a.m. EDT, completing an 81-day stay at the orbiting laboratory. The mission, known as OA-6, began on March 22, 2016 when Cygnus launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Cygnus delivered 7,900 pounds (3,60 ... read more


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