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How Fire Burns in Space

Without the ability to spray water, how do you put out a fire in space? And for that matter, without gravity, what does a burning fire look like? Trace has the answers.

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Strange Flames on the ISS

“For thousands of years, people have been mixing the oxygen-rich air of Earth with an almost endless variety of fuels to produce hot luminous flame.”

FLEX-ible Insight Into Flame Behavior

“Whether free-burning or smoldering, uncontrolled fire can threaten life and destroy property. On Earth, a little water, maybe some chemicals, and the fire is smothered.”

Weightless Flames: How Fires Burn in Space

“How do you put out a fire on a space station? If you were to ask an Earthbound firefighter how to extinguish a fire, he might tell you to aim for the base of the flame. But what if there is no base? What if the flame is a large, pulsing ball of intense fire?”

Fire Burns Differently in Space, Space Station Experiment Shows

“NASA is playing with fire on the International Space Station – literally. Since March 2009, the space agency’s Flame Extinguishment Experiment, or FLEX, has conducted more than 200 tests to better understand how fire behaves in microgravity, which is still not well understood. The research could lead to improved fire suppression systems aboard future spaceships, and it could also have practical benefits here on Earth, scientists said.”

In Space, Flames Behave in Ways Nobody Thought Possible

“Recent tests aboard the International Space Station have shown that fire in space can be less predictable and potentially more lethal than it is on Earth. ‘There have been experiments,’ says NASA aerospace engineer Dan Dietrich, ‘where we observed fires that we didn’t think could exist, but did.'”

Real-Life Astronaut Weighs In on ‘Gravity’

“In the new film Gravity, a spacewalk goes horribly awry. A devastating debris storm leaves two astronauts, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), struggling to survive in space. Audiences and critics love the movie-it’s breaking box office records-but we wanted to know if Gravity offered an accurate depiction of life (and a crisis) in space. We asked Roberta Bondar, the first female Canadian astronaut, to walk us through the science behind the movie.”

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