Spaceship fires were all in a good cause

Scientists who started several blazes on a cargo ship were trying to find out what happens when different materials burn in the confines of a spacecraft

A fire broke out onboard a cargo ship leaving the International Space Station (ISS) this week, but it was no emergency. It was part of the Spacecraft Fire Experiment 2 (Saffire-II) experiment to investigate combustion in microgravity to improve safety on future spaceflights.

Nine samples were burnt in controlled conditions inside the spacecraft during the early hours of Tuesday UK time. They included silicon of various thicknesses, which is one of the most widely used flammable materials in spacecraft; a cotton-fibreglass fire retardant called Nomex; and the same acrylic glass that is used for spacecraft windows.

Related: Supply ships keep the ISS in business

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