Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction (SoFIE)

Science Objectives

On Earth, gravity has a large influence on flames. At reduced gravity, such as on the International Space Station (microgravity) or on the Moon (lunar gravity), fire acts differently and can behave unexpectedly. There is some evidence that fires can be more hazardous in reduced gravity, which is a concern for fire safety. Understanding flame spread and behavior of solid materials in different environments in space is crucial for the safety of future astronauts and for understanding and controlling fire here on Earth.

Status

Delivery to the International Space Station via Cygnus NG-17 and will be operating on the station through February 2025.

Facility Description

The Solid Fuel Ignition and Extinction (SoFIE) project studies ignition and flammability of solid spacecraft materials in practical geometries and realistic atmospheric conditions. It is an experiment insert designed for use within the existing Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR). The CIR chamber provides a level of containment and permits testing at variable oxygen concentrations and pressures representative of current and planned NASA space exploration atmospheres.

Spacecraft Applications

  • improve understanding of how fires are ignited and grow in reduced gravity
  • improve extravehicular activity suit design
  • inform safer selection of cabin materials
  • validate NASA’s approach to testing spaceflight materials for flammability in low gravity
  • validate the numerical models NASA uses to predict the flammability of materials in space
  • determine the best techniques for suppressing fires in space

Earth Applications

The primary purpose of the project is to improve fire safety for future long-term missions to the Moon and eventually Mars or other planets. However, data collected by the project could provide better understanding of fire safety and improved materials screening tests for evaluating how fire safe a material is for homes, offices, aircraft, and other uses.

Related Links

Glenn Research Center

Investigations