Development of Large-Scale Spacecraft Fire Safety Experiments

Gary A. Ruff, David L. Urban, A. Carlos Fernandez-Pello, James S. T’ien, Jose L. Torero, Guillaume Legros, Christian Eigenbrod, Nickolay Smirnov, Osamu Fujita, Adam J. Cowlard, Sebastien Rouvreau, Olivier Minster, Balazs Toth, Grunde Jomaas

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The status is presented of a spacecraft fire safety research project that is being developed to reduce the uncertainty and risk in the design of spacecraft fire safety systems by testing at nearly full scale in low-gravity. Future crewed missions are expected to be longer in duration than previous exploration missions outside of low-earth orbit and accordingly, more complex in terms of operations, logistics, and safety. This will increase the challenge of ensuring a fire-safe environment for the crew throughout the mission. Based on our fundamental uncertainty of the behavior of fires in low-gravity, the need for realistic scale testing at reduced gravity has been demonstrated. To address this knowledge gap, the NASA Advanced Exploration Systems Program Office in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate has established a project with the goal of substantially advancing our understanding of the spacecraft fire safety risk. The activity of this project is supported by an international topical team of fire experts from other space agencies who conduct research that is integrated into the overall experiment design. The large-scale space flight experiment will be conducted in an Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus vehicle after it has deberthed from the ISS. Although the experiment will need to meet rigorous safety requirements to ensure the carrier vehicle does not sustain damage, the absence of a crew removes the need for strict containment of combustion products. The tests will be fully automated with the data downlinked at the conclusion of the test before the Cygnus vehicle reenters the atmosphere. Several computer modeling and ground-based experiment efforts will complement the flight experiment effort. The international topical team is collaborating with the NASA team in the definition of the experiment requirements and performing supporting analysis, experimentation and technology development. The status of the overall experiment and the associated international technology development efforts are summarized.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems
Number of pages12
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems - Vail, United States
Duration: 14 Jul 201318 Jul 2013
Conference number: 43


Conference43rd International Conference on Environmental Systems
CountryUnited States
Internet address

Bibliographical note

AIAA 2013-3410

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