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    • By European Space Agency
      Image: ESA astronaut candidate Rosemary Coogan lighting a fire during winter survival training in the snowy mountains of the Spanish Pyrenees as part of her basic astronaut training. View the full article
    • By NASA
      3 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      A sample of fabric burns inside an uncrewed Cygnus cargo craft during a previous Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment investigation, Saffire-IV.Credit: NASA NASA recently concluded the final mission of its Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment, or Saffire, putting a blazing end to an eight-year series of investigations that provided insights into fire’s behavior in space.
      The final experiment, Saffire-VI, launched to the International Space Station in August 2023 and concluded its mission on Jan. 9, when the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft it was flying on safely burned up during planned re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
      Dr. David Urban, principal investigator, and Dr. Gary Ruff, project manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, have led the Saffire project from Northeast Ohio since its initial spark in 2016. Throughout the experiment series, researchers gathered data NASA will use to enhance mission safety and inform future spacecraft and spacesuit designs.
      “How big a fire does it take for things to get bad for a crew?” Urban said. “This kind of work is done for every other inhabited structure here on Earth – buildings, planes, trains, automobiles, mines, submarines, ships – but we hadn’t done this research for spacecraft until Saffire.”

      Like previous Saffire experiments, Saffire-VI took place inside a unit on an uninhabited Cygnus spacecraft that had already departed from the space station, ensuring the safety of the orbiting laboratory and a more representative flight environment. However, this final iteration of the experiment was unique because of the higher oxygen concentration and lower pressure generated in the test unit to simulate the conditions within crewed spacecraft.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      NASA ignited the final set of space fire experiments for Saffire-VI inside Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft at the end of the NG-19 resupply mission to the International Space Station. Saffire, or Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiment, was a series of six investigations that provided insights into how fires grow and spread in space. This research is especially important as it will inform future spacecraft designs bound for the Moon and Mars. Video credit: NASA During the 19 Saffire-VI experiment runs, the NASA team and counterparts at Northrop Grumman made various adjustments to air conditions. They then ignited a flame on materials such as plexiglass, cotton, Nomex, and Solid Inflammability Boundary at Low-Speed fabrics. A bead-lined wire inside the unit ignited the materials.
      “The Saffire flow unit is a wind tunnel. We’re pushing air through it,” Ruff said. “Once test conditions are set, we run electrical current through a thin wire, and the materials ignite.”
      Cameras inside allowed the team to observe the flame while remote sensors outside the Saffire flow unit collected data about what was happening in the Cygnus vehicle. The images and information were gathered in real-time before being sent to Earth for scientists to analyze.
      “You’ve got a heat release rate and a rate of release of combustion products,” Ruff said. “You can take those as model input and predict what will happen in a vehicle.” 
      The next decade of exploration and science missions will see astronauts flying deeper into space and to locations that have yet to be explored. Though the Saffire experiments have been extinguished, NASA has learned valuable lessons and gathered mountains of data on fire behavior that will help the agency design safer spacecraft and accomplish its ambitious future missions.

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    • By NASA
      NASA/Danny Nowlin Clouds of white vapor pile up at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi during a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, 2024. This test series is critical for future flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in support of the Artemis campaign.
      During the Jan. 17 test, operators followed a “test like you fly” approach, firing the engine for the same amount of time – almost eight-and-a-half minutes (500 seconds) – needed to launch SLS and at power levels ranging between 80% to 113%.
      Image Credit: NASA/Danny Nowlin
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      3 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all.NASA/Danny Nowlin NASA continued a critical test series for future flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in support of the Artemis campaign on Jan. 17 with a full-duration hot fire of the RS-25 engine on the Fred Haise Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
      Data collected from the test series will be used to certify production of new RS-25 engines by lead contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company, to help power the SLS rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond, beginning with Artemis V.
      Teams are evaluating the performance of several new engine components, including a nozzle, hydraulic actuators, flex ducts, and turbopumps. The current series is the second and final series to certify production of the upgraded engines. NASA completed an initial 12-test certification series with the upgraded components in June 2023.
      During the Jan. 17 test, operators followed a “test like you fly” approach, firing the engine for the same amount of time – almost eight-and-a-half minutes (500 seconds) – needed to launch SLS and at power levels ranging between 80% to 113%.
      The Jan. 17 test comes three months after the current series began in October. During three tests last fall, operators fired the engine for durations from 500 to 650 seconds. The longest planned test of the series occurred on Nov. 29 when crews gimbaled, or steered, the engine during an almost 11-minute (650 seconds) hot fire. The gimbaling technique is used to control and stabilize SLS as it reaches orbit.
      Each SLS flight is powered by four RS-25 engines, firing simultaneously during launch and ascent to generate over 2 million pounds of thrust.
      The first four Artemis missions with SLS are using modified space shuttle main engines that can power up to 109% of their rated level. The newly produced RS-25 engines will power up to the 111% level to provide additional thrust. Testing to the 113% power level provides an added margin of operational safety.
      With the completion of the test campaign in 2024, all systems are expected to be “go” for production of 24 new RS-25 engines for missions beginning with Artemis V.
      Through Artemis, NASA will establish a long-term presence at the Moon for scientific exploration with commercial and international partners, learn how to live and work away from home, and prepare for future human exploration of Mars.

      Photo cutline (use the same cutline for all four images): NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all. Photo Credit: NASA/Danny Nowlin

      For information about NASA’s Stennis Space Center, visit:
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      Last Updated Jan 18, 2024 EditorNASA Stennis CommunicationsContactC. Lacy Thompsoncalvin.l.thompson@nasa.gov / (228) 688-3333LocationStennis Space Center Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      Research on the International Space Station is helping scientists to understand how fire spreads and behaves in different environments and learn how to prevent and extinguish fires in space. Combustion investigations contribute to the safety of crew members, equipment, and spacecraft by guiding selection of spacecraft cabin materials, improving understanding of fire growth, and identifying optimal fire suppression techniques. This research also contributes to fire safety on Earth and some studies improve our understanding of combustion for uses such as producing electricity and powering vehicles on the ground.
      Microgravity dramatically influences flames and provides a unique environment for studying combustion. For example, on Earth, hot gases from a flame rise and gravity pulls cooler, denser air to the bottom of a flame, creating the classic shape and flickering effect. In microgravity, this flow doesn’t occur and on the space station, low-momentum flames tend to be rounded or even spherical. By removing the effects of buoyancy, microgravity provides researchers a better understanding of specific flame behaviors.
      NASA astronaut Kate Rubins works on the space station’s Combustion Integrated Rack.NASA The Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), developed and operated by NASA’s Glenn Research Center, provides a secure and safe environment for a wide range of combustion experiments. Different chamber inserts that enable a variety of investigations include the Multi-user Droplet Combustion Apparatus, which supported FLame Extinguishment Experiments (FLEX), the Advanced Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME) insert, and the Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction – Growth and Extinction Limit (SoFIE) chamber.
      FLEX, which analyzed the effectiveness of fire suppressants, led to the discovery of a type of cool flame, where the fuel continued “burning” under certain conditions after extinction of the visible flame. Typical flames produce carbon dioxide and water, but cool flames produce carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Learning more about the behavior of these chemically different flames could lead to the development of more-efficient, less-polluting vehicles. Cool flames produced on Earth quickly flicker out. Since they burn longer in microgravity, scientists have the opportunity to study them.
      FLEX-2 looked at how quickly fuel droplets burn, the conditions required for soot to form, and how mixtures of liquid fuels evaporate before burning. Results could help make future spacecraft safer and increase fuel efficiency for engines using liquid fuel on Earth.
      ACME is a set of six independent studies using the CIR to examine fuel efficiency and pollutant production in combustion on Earth. The series also looked at improving spacecraft fire prevention through a better understanding of materials flammability.
      One ACME investigation, Flame Design, studied the quantity of soot produced under different flame conditions. Soot, the carbon residue left when carbon-containing material does not fully burn, causes environmental and health issues but is desirable for some purposes. Results could enable the design of flames with more or less soot, depending on the specific need, and may help create more efficient and less polluting designs for burning fuel.
      ACME’s Burning Rate Emulator (BRE) simulated the flammability of solid and liquid materials by burning gaseous fuels under specific conditions. Analysis of 59 BRE burn tests provided data on heat flow, flame size, effects of fuel mixture flow, and other important parameters.1 Results could improve the fundamental understanding of materials flammability and assess whether existing methods for testing flammability are effective in microgravity.
      Image of a flame burning one of the BASS tests on extinguishing burning fuels.NASA Burning and Suppression of Solids (BASS) was one of the first investigations to examine how to extinguish fuels burning in microgravity. Putting out fires in space must consider flame geometry, characteristics of the materials, and methods used to extinguish it, because methods used on the ground could be ineffective or even make the flame worse.
      BASS-II examined the characteristics of a variety of fuel samples to see whether materials burn as well in microgravity as in normal gravity, given the right conditions. Several papers have reported results from BASS-II, with findings including the differences between flame spread and fuel regression and comparison of flame spread rates.2,3
      ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti works on the SoFIE-GEL investigation of materials flammability.NASA SoFIE-GEL analyzes how the temperature of a fuel affects material flammability. Researchers report that experiment observations agree with trends predicted by the models. This investigation, the first in a series, tested various fuels including flat sheets, thick slabs, cylinders, and spheres.
      Saffire is a series of experiments conducted aboard uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft after they depart the station, which makes it possible to test larger fires without putting crew members at risk. Results on flame spread in microgravity can be used to establish the rate of heat release in a spacecraft4 and show that reducing pressure slows down that spread.5
      A sample of fabric burns inside an uncrewed Cygnus cargo spacecraft for the Saffire-IV experiment. NASA Confined Combustion, sponsored by the ISS National Lab, examines flame spread in confined spaces of different shapes. Confinement affects fire characteristics and hazards. Researchers report specifics on interactions between a flame and its surrounding walls and the fate of the flame, such as growth or extinction.6 These results provide guidance for the design of structures, fire safety codes, and response in space and on Earth. Other results suggest that confinement can increase or decrease solid fuel flammability depending on conditions.7
      FLARE, an investigation sponsored by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), also tests the flammability of materials in microgravity. Results could significantly improve fire safety on future missions.
      JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa sets up hardware for the FLARE investigation. NASA Flame studies help keep crews in space safe. This research also could lead to more efficient combustion that reduces pollutants and produces more efficient flames for uses on Earth such as heating and transportation.
      Search this database of scientific experiments to learn more about those mentioned above.

      Citations
      Dehghani, P., Sunderland, P.B., Quintiere, J.G., deRis. J.L. Burning in microgravity: Experimental results and analysis. Combustion and Flame. Vol 228, June 2021, pp 315-330 Huang X, Link S, Rodriguez A, Thomsen M, Olson SL, Ferkul PV, Fernandez-Pello AC. Transition from opposed flame spread to fuel regression and blow off: Effect of flow, atmosphere, and microgravity. Proceedings of the Combustion Institute. 2019 37(3): 4117-4126. DOI: 10.1016/j.proci.2018.06.022. Bhattacharjee S, Laue M, Carmignani L, Ferkul PV, Olson SL. Opposed-flow flame spread: A comparison of microgravity and normal gravity experiments to establish the thermal regime. Fire Safety Journal. 2016 January; pp 79111-118. DOI: 10.1016/j.firesaf.2015.11.011 Urban DL, Ferkul PV, Olson SL, Ruff GA, Easton JW, Tien JS, Liao YT, Li C, Fernandez-Pello AC, Torero JL, Legros G, Eigenbrod C, Smirnov N, Fujita O, Rouvreau S, Toth B, Jomaas G. Flame spread: Effects of microgravity and scale. Combustion and Flame. Vol 199 January 2019; pp 199168-182. DOI: 10.1016/j.combustflame.2018.10.012. Thomsen M, Fernandez-Pello AC, Urban DL, Ruff GA, Olson SL. Upward flame spread over a thin composite fabric: The effect of pressure and microgravity. 48th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 2018 July 8; p ICES-2018-23111 Li Y, Liao YT, Ferkul PV, Johnston MC, Bunnell CT. Experimental study of concurrent-flow flame spread over thin solids in confined space in microgravity. Combustion and Flame. Vol 227, May 2021; pp 22739-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.combustflame.2020.12.042 Li Y, Liao YT, Ferkul PV, Johnston MC, Bunnell CT. Confined combustion of polymeric solid materials in microgravity. Combustion and Flame. Vik 234 Dec 2021; pp  234111637. DOI: 10.1016/j.combustflame.2021.111637. Keep Exploring Discover More Topics
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