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NASA rocket launch lets scientists play with fire in space

An Orbital ATK rocket successfully launchedfrom Virginia on Monday evening, sending a Cygnus cargo spacecraft on its way to resupply the International Space Station. It’s also carrying a few science experiments that NASA wouldn’t mind seeing totally flame out.

Article by Erick Mack

Once the Cygnus is emptied, re-loaded with trash, detached from the space station and sent on a course to burn up in the atmosphere, researchers on Earth will send the command to light a fire inside the doomed craft.

Saffire-II will add to our limited knowledge of how fire works in space. It will help provide the sort of detailed understanding necessary to deal with possible explosions and other accidents that could occur on long, manned missions to Mars or elsewhere.

One weird, unexpected discovery about fire in space made on the International Space Station is that it can burn at a very cool, low level, to the point where it’s invisible to the naked eye.

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