A Cygnus cargo ship launching toward the International Area Station (ISS) this weekend will carry an experiment developed to improve fire security on moon and Mars missions.
Termed SoFIE (Good Fuel Ignition and Extinction), the experiment is the hottest in a series of in-orbit investigations that glance at how hearth behaves in microgravity. SoFIE is section of a much larger haul of science, supplies and components flying on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus NG-17 resupply mission, which is scheduled to start at 12:39 p.m. EST (1739 GMT) on Saturday (Feb. 19).
“What we hope to do is advise long run missions on product flammability as they work prototype styles for upcoming spacesuits, cabins and habitats and forecast how those components would melt away in lunar, Martian or other environments,” Paul Ferkul, SoFIE venture scientist at NASA’s Glenn Investigation Heart in Ohio, told Room.com through e-mail.
“The experiments also will support NASA recognize the best techniques to put out fires or smoldering supplies in place,” Ferkul included.
The Cygnus launch will acquire location from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. Protection will be carried on NASA Television, the NASA application, NASA social media and also listed here at Place.com. Observe that the timing of the launch may improve for technological, climate or other reasons.
When SoFIE reaches the ISS, the experiment will be mounted in the Combustion Investigation Rack, situated on the U.S. Laboratory Module (Destiny) for harmless combustion exploration.
“The house station gives a special microgravity surroundings that enables researchers to analyze the correct nature of flames isolated and unaltered by gravity,” Ferkul claimed.
Moreover, livestreamed video clip alongside with sensor facts will allow the workforce at Glenn to appear at flames when they are burning, and even make adjustments for ignition things, movement velocity, oxygen, pressure and radiant heating.
The tests will contain samples that are amongst about 4 inches and 12 inches (10 and 30 centimeters) extended. The experiment will glimpse at plexiglass, cotton-dependent fabrics and other materials commonly utilized in spaceflight, Ferkul claimed. It truly is scheduled to operate until eventually November 2025.
Ferkul explained the science background of this experiment attracts upon function beforehand executed by two other NASA experiments: the Flame Extinguishment Experiment (FLEX) and the State-of-the-art Combustion via Microgravity Experiments (ACME).
FLEX, which is now concluded, targeted on “the effectiveness of inert-fuel suppressants in microgravity and get hold of[ing] the most conservative estimate of the restricting oxygen index for regular combustion,” its experiment webpage states.
ACME has a secondary emphasis on fireplace protection in room, along with a key aim to increase the effectiveness of combustion know-how and decrease its air pollution emissions, according to its webpage. In January, a flame design experiment used chamber stress differences in an endeavor to alter flame dimension and observed modifications instead in brightness.
Cygnus freighters are also acknowledged for internet hosting a collection of fire basic safety experiments during the deorbiting course of action, which are collectively known as Spacecraft Hearth Safety (Saffire). Controllers intentionally light a hearth inside the spacecraft, which is currently en route to a planned destruction in Earth’s ambiance, to investigate huge-scale flame growth and material flammability. Aside from the aim on hearth basic safety, having said that, Saffire and SoFIE have tiny in prevalent, Ferkul explained.
“The Saffire experiments made use of big samples — up to practically 100 cm [40 inches] in size — which were feasible simply because there was no crew current,” Ferkul reported.
“Compared with SoFIE, the five Saffire tests ended up carried out autonomously, burning fuel samples in a pre-decided collection of methods,” he ongoing. “Due to the fact of interaction constraints, video could only be downloaded immediately after the assessments were full, which built any genuine-time changes or changes — these kinds of as move speed — impossible.”
Ferkul was unavailable in the course of a NASA mobile phone-in push meeting last Thursday (Feb. 10) that reviewed a assortment of other science experiments on Cygnus, their objectives and their probable gains for a assortment of science and engineering programs. The experiments highlighted had been:
- Colgate Skin Growing old experiment, led by Colgate. It “evaluates cellular and molecular modifications in engineered human pores and skin cells in microgravity,” according to a NASA press release. Alterations in such cells have implications for issues these as fighting off infection or regulating body temperature, which are some of the capabilities of skin.
- MicroQuin 3D Tumor , led by MicroQuin. It “examines the results of a drug on breast and prostate cancer cells in house,” NASA suggests. Microgravity encourages these cells to increase in three proportions, which will allow investigators a opportunity to scrutinize the structure.
- OGA H2 Sensor Demo (OGS) , led by NASA’s Marshall House Flight Heart in Alabama. This experiment “exams new sensors for the house station’s oxygen generation system.” OGS separates hydrogen from oxygen as a result of electrolysis. Whilst present-day sensors be certain no hydrogen will come into the cabin, they are sensitive to components like humidity and require swapping out every 201 days.
- Place As-Lib, an experiment from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Company analyzing “a lithium-ion secondary battery capable of harmless, steady procedure beneath excessive temperatures and in a vacuum natural environment.” The battery has flame-retardant supplies and does not leak liquid, amid other attributes.
- Uncovered Root On-Orbit Test Program (XROOTS) investigation, led by the spaceflight organization Sierra Nevada Corp. This experiment exams plant expansion in hydroponic (h2o-centered) and aeroponic (air-centered) programs, in its place of working with soil. If successful, these methods could minimize the mass of plant experiments.
Cygnus NG-17 will convey up hardware for about 40 investigations for NASA, the U.S. National Laboratories and worldwide partners, Jennifer Buchli, deputy main scientist for the Global House Station program at NASA’s Johnson Room Center in Houston, said for the duration of the press conference.
The spacecraft will haul approximately 2,000 lbs . (around 900 kilograms) of science technology demonstrations and utilization to room, with an envisioned 248 hrs of investigation time for the crew, Buckley additional. The ISS program seeks to prioritize crew time for science, whilst astronauts also shell out time on issues such as place station upkeep, as nicely as exercise and personal hygiene.
“NG-17 kicks off a quite fast paced and remarkable spring,” Buckley reported. “In just 4 months, we will have two cargo resupply missions carrying experiments and facilities that will go on that orbiting laboratory’s contribution to improving existence on Earth and pushing us farther into deep place.”
Forthcoming crewed highlights that Buckley cited include things like the initially all-private room mission to the ISS, Axiom Space’s Ax-1 SpaceX’s Crew 4 start to the orbiting lab and the return of NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei soon after approximately a 12 months-long mission in area.
Boeing’s extensive-delayed uncrewed Orbital Flight Exam 2 is also expected to launch in the late spring, to assess the Starliner spacecraft’s readiness to have astronauts.