NASA is known for pulling off crazy stuff to have an idea about life in outer space and how to deal when shit happens in space. Now news has emerged that the premier space agency is now set to light a huge garbage fire in space on a truck. Why would they want to do that?
It is true that the space is the final frontier for mankind, and we need to work as hard as we can to open it to ourselves. Now if we want humans up there for long periods, we need to understand how to deal with emergencies and calamities like fire for instance. Now we haven’t had an actual fire of significant proportion in the International Space Station or shuttles but if it does happen in space, what to do in this situation? So NASA has no idea what to do in that situation and aims to simulate the effects of this fire. The experiment will be conducted inside a Cygnus resupply vehicle that will be carrying all the trash. Once it was disconnected from the space station, the fire was supposed to be lit at 9:30 a.m. ET and we are still waiting to see how it went. You can follow it here.
But, it wasn’t as easy to process as you think as NASA had to understand the basic fire dynamics in space and had to make sure the fire spread in a controlled manner. We wouldn;t want a bus-sized flaming meteor coming back towards Earth would we? Over the last few months NASA has packed the Cygnus with all the basic supplies for this experiment and also loaded it with all the trash, it could find on the International Space Station. The craft has now been undocked and put in a different orbit so that it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the orbiting devices. Once Cygnus has reached its predetermined position, a fire will be remotely sparked inside it by NASA. The fire is expected to last around twenty minutes.
There won’t be a live stream of the fire because NASA because apparently, it wants to keep the test a secret. But, the capsule will be destroyed, and we expect NASA to release at least some video for the followers around the world.
Now the fire on Earth is very different to the one in microgravity. Here is the difference:
Astronauts haven’t had to light fires bigger than a candle or a match, and they would definitely miss this, but it wasn’t in their safety interests. In space, buoyancy doesn’t exist and as a result, the fire is capable of spreading 360 degrees around the area. Now even though NASA scientists know about the basic science, they have no idea about the mechanism of it. Now they have the chance to do their research.
Here is the footage of the Cygnus detaching from the International Space Station: