New Paper Evaluates Space Station Fire Detector Performance

The paper explains that not all of the particles were consistently detected, so the authors recommend that the next generation of spacecraft fire detectors must be improved and tested against smoke from relevant space materials.

A new paper published in Fire Safety Journal by a team of NASA and NIST researchers describes their evaluation of smoke particles produced by five materials commonly used aboard crewed spacecraft and how well they can be detected by two traditional systems. A NIST news release on May 1 describes a tense moment in February 1997 aboard the Russian space station Mir, when its crew -- including U.S. astronaut Jerry Linenger -- had to extinguish a burning lithium-perchlorate canister that was designed to generate oxygen via a chemical reaction. "Although the fire was quickly subdued, a dense, life-threatening smoke—different in form and movement from its gravity bound counterpart on Earth—rapidly filled the station. Being confined in a limited area 360 kilometers (224 miles) above the nearest fire brigade made the situation even more precarious," the release states.

NASA has teamed with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2002 to study the behavior of smoke in microgravity. The paper explains that not all of the particles were consistently detected, so the authors recommend that the next generation of spacecraft fire detectors must be improved and tested against smoke from relevant space materials.

They tested smoke particles from material used in experiments aboard the International Space Station, including cotton fiber, Kapton (a polymer for thermal insulation), silicone rubber (for seals and gaskets), Teflon (for insulating wires), and Pyrell (polyurethane foam for packing). While the large particles produced by overheating the cellulose, silicone, and Pyrell samples were easily picked up by the light-scattering photoelectric ISS detector, it frequently could not detect the smaller smoke particles from Teflon and Kapton.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Easy to Use Safety Incident App

    Record incidents on the go with IndustrySafe’s mobile app. Collect data for multiple types of incidents including including near misses, vehicle and environmental incidents, and employee and non-employee injuries; at job sites and remote locations—with or without web access.

  • Complete Online Safety Training Courses

    Deliver state-of-the art, online safety training courses to your organization with IndustrySafe Training Management Software. Generate reports to track training compliance and automatically notify learners of upcoming or overdue classes.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus