Operation and Development Status of the Spacecraft Fire Experiments (Saffire)



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46th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Since 2012, a series of Spacecraft Fire Experiment (Saffire) have been under development by the Spacecraft Fire Safety Demonstration (SFS Demo) project, funded by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems. The overall objective of this project is to reduce the uncertainty and risk associated with the design of spacecraft fire safety systems for NASA’s exploration missions. This is accomplished by defining, developing, and conducting experiments that address gaps in spacecraft fire safety knowledge and capabilities identified by NASA’s Fire Safety System Maturation Team. The Spacecraft Fire Experiments (Saffire-I, -II, and -III) are material flammability tests at length scales that are realistic for a spacecraft fire in low-gravity. The specific objectives of these experiments are to (1) determine how rapidly a large scale fire grows in low-gravity and (2) investigate the low-g flammability limits compared to those obtained in NASA’s normal gravity material flammability screening test. The experiments will be conducted in Orbital ATK’s Cygnus vehicle after it has unberthed from the International Space Station. The tests will be fully automated with the data downlinked at the conclusion of the test before the Cygnus vehicle reenters the atmosphere. This paper will discuss three topics from the SFS Demo project. First, a status of the Saffire-I, II, and III experiments will be presented including an update on the initial results from the Saffire-I mission. Second, the objectives and development status for the next series of experiments, Saffire-IV, V, and VI, will be discussed including how these results will address spacecraft fire safety knowledge and capability gaps for NASA’s exploration missions. Finally, several ground-based activities that support these experiments and address other fire safety gaps for exploration will also be addressed.


United States
NASA Glenn Reserach Center
ICES509: Fire Safety in Spacecraft and Enclosed Habitats
Vienna, Austria
Gary A. Ruff, NASA John H. Glenn Research Center, USA
David L. Urban, NASA John H. Glenn Research Center, USA
The 46th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Vienna, Austria, USA on 10 July 2016 through 14 July 2016.


Spacecraft fire safety, Material flammability, microgravity combustion