The unmanned, pressurized environment in the Saffire experiments allows for the largest sample sizes ever to be tested for material flammability in microgravity, which will be based on the characteristics of flame spread over the surface of the combustible material. Furthermore, the experiments will have a duration that is unmatched in scale compared to earth based microgravity research facilities such as drop towers (about 5 s) and parabolic flights (about 20 s). In contrast to sounding rockets, the experiments offer a much larger volume, and the reduction in the oxygen concentration during the Saffire experiments will be minimal.
The selection of the experimental settings for the first three Saffire experiments has been based on existing knowledge of scenarios that are relevant, yet challenging, for a spacecraft environment. Given that there is always airflow in the space station, all the experiments are conducted with flame spread in either concurrent or opposed flow, though with the flow being stopped in some tests, to simulate the alarm mode environment in the ISS and thereby also to study extinguishment. The materials have been selected based on their known performance in NASA STD-6001Test-1, and with different materials being classified as charring, thermally thin, and thermally thick. Furthermore, materials with non-uniform surfaces will be investigated.
- flame propagation
- fire safety