Author Topic: Orbital's Cygnus spacecraft selected by NASA to host experimental fire safety  (Read 4298 times)

Offline jacqmans

  • Moderator
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18166
  • Houten, The Netherlands
  • Liked: 3778
  • Likes Given: 209

-- Saffire Experiments Will Test Flammability of Various Materials in
Low-Gravity Environments --

(Dulles, VA 08 August 2013) – Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB), one
of the world’s leading space technology companies, today announced it has
been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
to host a scientific payload that will improve spacecraft fire safety for
future space exploration vehicles.  Known as the Spacecraft Fire Experiment
(Saffire), the payload will be hosted aboard Orbital’s Cygnus™ advanced
maneuvering spacecraft and is planned for flight by mid-2015.

“While the primary mission of Cygnus is to deliver cargo to the
International Space Station (ISS), Saffire will demonstrate the ability of
Cygnus to provide important secondary mission capabilities, including as a
platform to conduct a wide variety of experiments and demonstrations
beneficial to the scientific and engineering community,” said Mr. Frank
DeMauro, Orbital’s Cygnus Program Manager.

“After completing its cargo delivery mission, Cygnus has the capability of
remaining in space for months at a time and provide substantial power, data
and propulsion support to hosted payloads,” DeMauro added.  “This affords
researchers ample time to conduct experiments in a real-world space
environment at an affordable cost, a very attractive feature for scientists
looking to conduct short- to medium-duration research and for space
industry communities developing flight heritage data for materials and

The self-contained Saffire payload, built by NASA’s Glenn Research Center
(GRC), will test the flammability of large samples of various types of
materials in low-gravity environments.  It will be integrated into Cygnus’
Pressurized Cargo Module and remain in place throughout the duration of the
cargo delivery mission.

Orbital is currently under contract for one mission, but NASA is preparing
three flight systems, Saffire I, II and III, each dedicated to a separate
Saffire Cygnus mission.  Saffire I will test one fabric sample, while
Saffire II will test 10 fabric samples and Saffire III will test a hybrid
of the Saffire I and II samples.

“Currently, most flammability data for materials in microgravity is
obtained during short-duration, drop-tower tests with small sample sizes,”
said Mr. Carl Walz, Orbital’s Vice President for Human Spaceflight and a
former NASA astronaut. “There is very little data on large-scale material
flammability in low-gravity environments.  Gathering this type of data will
enable NASA to enhance safe operations of new space vehicles that are being
designed for long-duration travel to the Moon, asteroids and other

“The Cygnus design has been modified to provide a standard interface
capability for future internally and externally hosted payloads, similar to
the system we have used for hosted payloads on our commercial
communications satellites.  This will provide low-cost, short-lead time and
regular spaceflight opportunities for a variety of future government and
commercial hosted payloads,” said DeMauro.

About Cygnus
Orbital developed Cygnus as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation
Services (COTS) joint research and development initiative with NASA.
Beginning later this year, Orbital will conduct eight Cygnus missions to
deliver approximately 20,000 kilograms of cargo to the ISS, including crew
supplies, spare parts and equipment, and scientific experiments.  Each
Cygnus will launch aboard an Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional
Spaceport (MARS) launch pad at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops
Island, VA.

A low-risk design spacecraft, Cygnus consists of a common Service Module
(SM) and a Pressurized Cargo Module (PCM).  The SM incorporates avionics,
power and propulsion systems already successfully flown aboard Orbital’s
LEOStar™ and GEOStar™ satellite product lines.  The PCM, designed and built
by Thales Alenia Space under a subcontract from Orbital, is based on the
Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).  For more information on Cygnus,
click here.

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7438
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1459
  • Likes Given: 4521
wonderful idea! It's one of those "why didn't I thought of that before" ideas. I can think, for example as a platform to test failure and accident cases. And engineering with the Orion's fault tre would hava a field day with this. And anybody with an experiment too dangerous for human rating to execute, too. In fact, you could send the parts folded and have the astronauts set up or check your setup before unberthing. Beautiful concept. Might even be useful for samples that have already been to space.

Offline manboy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2082
  • Texas, USA, Earth
  • Liked: 127
  • Likes Given: 539
This is old news, I'm not sure why NASA took so long with the press release.

"So will future full-up Cygnus vehicles, which will be outfitted to support both the cargo they carry for the space station and any hosted payloads Orbital can find. The company already has a contract with NASA’s Glenn Research Center to conduct a combustion experiment on an emptied Cygnus once Orbital begins flying out its $1.9 billion, eight-mission Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract. “We expect we will have a pretty sophisticated spacecraft that can operate on orbit for upward of a year,” said Michael Hamel, Orbital’s senior vice president for corporate strategy and development. The Glenn experiment will study how fires can propagate and be extinguished in a spacecraft, on a scale that would be unsafe to attempt on an occupied vehicle."
- Aviation Week, April 2013
« Last Edit: 08/09/2013 10:25 am by manboy »
"Cheese has been sent into space before. But the same cheese has never been sent into space twice." - StephenB

Offline manboy

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2082
  • Texas, USA, Earth
  • Liked: 127
  • Likes Given: 539
« Last Edit: 08/09/2013 10:41 am by manboy »
"Cheese has been sent into space before. But the same cheese has never been sent into space twice." - StephenB

Online JBF

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1410
  • Liked: 424
  • Likes Given: 780
Old new or not, I agree it is a good idea. This should be interesting to watch. I hope they release video.
"In principle, rocket engines are simple, but that’s the last place rocket engines are ever simple." Jeff Bezos

Online ugordan

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7712
    • My mainly Cassini image gallery
  • Liked: 1919
  • Likes Given: 436
This is old news, I'm not sure why NASA took so long with the press release.

Looks to me like it's Orbital's press release, not NASA's.

Offline asmi

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 690
  • Ontario, Canada
  • Liked: 114
  • Likes Given: 111
That's what RSA is doing with Progress flights. Looks like NASA has also seen utility in doing these kinds of experiments.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

  • Moderator
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22564
  • Liked: 916
  • Likes Given: 347