Energy

NASA Will Study How Fires Work In Space By Torching A Spaceship

Aerospace giant Orbital ATK will torch one of its spacecraft as part of an experiment to see how fire acts in microgravity.

The experiment will help NASA better prepare to keep astronauts safe from spacecraft fires during future missions.

“While in space, after traveling a safe distance from the station, the fire is lit and data is collected before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA said in a statement. “The experiment lasts about two-and-a-half hours, of which 20 minutes is the actual burn of a fabric panel measuring 0.4 meters (yards) wide by one meter long.”

Orbital ATK will set a spacecraft full of trash ablaze after it drops off vital food and supplies to astronauts living at the International Space Station. The mission is scheduled to blast off Tuesday, but the experiment won’t begin until at least Saturday.

No astronauts will be on the craft when the fire starts, and the spaceship will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere shortly thereafter.

This will be Orbital ATK’s seventh mission to space as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

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