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Fire Burns Differently In Space

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the half-as-long-twice-as-bright dept.

ISS 146

New submitter black6host writes with this interesting snippet from Space.com: "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."

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146 comments

There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38225896)

Oh my god what are you idiots d

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Informative)

dubsnipe (1822200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38225924)

Well, as long as there is oxygen around, things should combust.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (3, Interesting)

show me altoids (1183399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38225998)

Yeah, but with no convection to carry away the combustion byproducts and bring in more oxygen, it is much more difficult.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226706)

There's still convection (heat/mass transfer by movement of fluid). Air still moves. The heated gases will expand and flow away from the fire, probably in a not entirely uniform way. And I would imagine that airflow from other sources (ventilators, moving objects) also exists. You don't have the expected convection from hot gases rising, that's why they're looking into how fire works in microgravity, because it works differently.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227106)

Okay, there's no GRAVITATIONAL convection, which is the dominant method that enables fresh oxygen to get to a fire in the earth's atmosphere.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227176)

Okay, there's no GRAVITATIONAL convection, which is the dominant method that enables fresh oxygen to get to a fire in the earth's atmosphere.

Don't tell that to fires. Fires often create their own convection due to a variety of factors.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227918)

Nigga you stupid.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38228108)

I lol'd

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227002)

I love it when people don't even accept the premise of the title of the summary, much less RTFA.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228558)

I actually hate that. Willful ignorance should be a fine-able offence.
But I get that you jest.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226010)

Well, as long as there is oxygen around, things should combust.

Sure, in a crude way you're right and there are a lot of electricals and combustibles on spacecraft. But HOW does it burn when there is no UP? We're so use to hot air rising that our everyday ideas of how to deal with a fire, like get down low, will not work in space. These are ideas that save lives here but are of no use if a fire were to break out. We can only develop new ideas if we get some direct experimental experience. Also it may lead to an ability to harness the differences inherent in a zero g process for industrial/manufacturing processes (but I'm just speculating here). This is worthwhile basic science.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226194)

I would think that the worst possible thing (or best possible thing, from Invader Zim's viewpoint) that could happen with a fire in zero G is air flow / turbulence. If there isn't any movement of air, then the oxygen surrounding the fire is consumed and the fire burns very slowly. Since convection currents are a product of gravity, they don't occur in zero G so no fresh O2 is sucked into the fire for combustion as it does here on earth. So I would think anywhere there is an air vent blowing air, or even people just moving around in the environment, you'd have blowtorch like fire forming where the air is disturbed. I bet you could literally see the turbulence in the air as wisps of flame. Kind of disturbing to think of.
An example of this is in a swimming pool. Have you noticed that if you hold very still in motionless, cold water, that you will begin to feel warmer, but as soon as you move it feels cold again (and no, I'm not talking about heating the pool with your pee). That is because the molecules closest to your body heat up, and since they aren't flowing and being replaced by colder molecules, only conduction takes heat away. It's sort of the same principle with fire in zero-g, where the fuel has consumed the oxygen near it (and it is also surrounded by combustion byproducts as well), so as long as fresh air isn't wafted into it, combustion almost grinds to a halt.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

cr_nucleus (518205) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226420)

But would the temperature difference in itself create some fluid movement ?

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226560)

Heat causes the air to expand, but it expands in all directions.
So you get a bubble of low density CO2 around the fire, but not any movement, because there is no gravity to organize low density air above high density air.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (3, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226732)

I would be quite shocked to find that there wasn't constant airflow in the space station. It's not going to be a wind tunnel in there but there's going to be constant circulation from temperature control systems, whatever they use to filter the excess CO2 out of the air, etc.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Informative)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227056)

There is and it was the same with the space shuttles etc... if you lost something there was a good chance you could find it sucked up against in exhaust vent.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228154)

If I remember right: ISS, MIR... are/were very noisy because everything electronic has to be cooled by forced convection (fans). Without natural convection even a low powered circuit board that would easily dissipate the heat on Earth could eventually overheat in zero G as the heated air just sits there next to the components.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (3, Interesting)

The_Crisis (2221344) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227342)

So you get a bubble of low density CO2 around the fire, but not any movement

That's correct, except for the parts where it's backwards and/or wrong. The heat given off as the product of combustion should increase the pressure of CO (and/or other products of combustion) (see: Charles' Law) which we are guessing would radiate away in all directions. That pressure increase should cause airflow from the area of higher pressure to the area of lower pressure (see: Wind). So (totally guessing/hypothesizing here) it seems to me that the heat generated as a result of combustion would increase the pressure and cause airflow away from the center of the combustion source which would prevent much if any O2-rich air from circulating, in effect choking itself out.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Insightful)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229370)

What you, grandparent, and great-grandparent have overlooked is just how inveterate motion is. Matter is always in motion above zero degrees Kelvin. The environment of the space station is going to be around room temperature, well above 0K, meaning lots of atomic motion. The molecules of this CO2 "bubble" will quickly disperse as they follow down their concentration gradient. Conversely, molecules of O2 will quickly reach the flame as they follow down their concentration gradient. The astronauts could stop oxygen from getting to the flame by sealing it, but not by staying very still.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227230)

Yes the standing still would be a case of natural convection, any movement in the water surrounding them would be a case of forced convection.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Espresso2xshot (2416248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226586)

So from what you're leading to if you see a fire in microgravity and try to run away from it your motion would pull in oxygen and make the flames fly towards you!?

The more you move the worse the fire gets as you create more convection. Yikes!
There goes stop drop and roll, would be more like Stop and remain motionless.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226898)

Stopping and remaining motionless puts out my wife's fire also.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Funny)

stealth_finger (1809752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226972)

There goes stop drop and roll, would be more like Stop and remain motionless.

Pretend the fire is a T-Rex.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226884)

Wouldn't the fire spread outward in all directions equally assuming no air movement? Since it would consume the oxygen next to the source (increasing the flame), which would then consume the oxygen next to it and so on? So maybe expanding out in a sphere, but only the outer edge is actually on fire?

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227276)

You require 3 things to keep a conventional fire going. Heat, fuel, and oxygen. The fire would not spread outwards unless there was fuel to burn as well. The same was that a campfire doesn't just keep spreading outwards away from the fire pit, since all the wood (fuel) is in the pit. Now if you were to spill a container of oil or other combustible liquid inside the space station, and then set it on fire. Now the fire could theoretically spread outwards in all directions as the liquid also spread outwards.

On Earth, most fire suppression systems work on removing the heat and to some extent oxygen from the fire triangle. We use compressed CO2, which cools the area as it expands while also displacing some of the oxygen. Or by dousing it with a lot of water, which again cools the surrounding area and displaces some of the oxygen with steam.

In a space station, I think the easiest way to stop a fire would be to vent the atmosphere since removing the oxygen would kill the fire right away. Though the downside is that humans also require oxygen so it'd kill any crew members in that section as well (Assuming they weren't in protective suits).

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227792)

The reason a flame rises on Earth is because of the very slight pressure difference between the bottom of the flame and the top. There is negligible lateral pressure differences, so the flame is roughly cylindrically symmetric. As the OP says, this is indirectly due to gravitational acceleration (though the gravitational field is essentially the same in LEO).

This is why you see an almost spherical flame in space. The pressure is approximately equal all around it and the flame expands outwards.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38228648)

It seems like simple diffusion should provide enough oxygen to feed a fire. Oxygen should flow from an area of higher partial pressure to an area of lower, as should the CO2 flow away from the fire. The gases shouldn't be forming bubbles, that goes against entropy and would make it impossible for humans to breath (we're effectively slow burning fires ourselves). In a swimming pool, water will form a hydration shell and interact with our skin, so that's a bit different.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226660)

Reading the heading of the article, I'm surprised they only got around to it now, we use combustion quite a bit as humans and it would be quite useful in space, I also wonder how artificial gravity would affect it considering something like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nautilus-X [wikipedia.org] .

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226980)

Easy enough to play around with a GPU - there's been many papers on how to implement basic CFD for flame effects. Just take out the gravity bit, and you still get air vortices due to expansion. Without gravity, heated air can expand in all directions, but when it cools down, it still contracts, then pulling in cold air. Then you get Rayleigh-Bénard convection currents. You can model this at home using a metal tray filled with a thin layer of water, heated lightly using a cooker.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227172)

I'm just going wtf is this news of 2011?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flame#Flames_in_microgravity [wikipedia.org]

I'm pretty sure I saw a similar picture in some book, magazine or something before 2000 too though. it's such an obvious experiment...

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Dadoo (899435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229682)

Slightly off topic, but I read a book, a long time ago, about a space station in low earth orbit. In the book, there were a few paragraphs that discussed what might happen to a fire in micro-gravity. When a teacher lit a match, it burned with a spherical flame, and put it self out quickly, because there was no place for the CO2 to go. If you wanted the match to continue burning, you had to keep it moving.

The book was science fiction, but it would be interesting to find out if they were correct.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229888)

Possibly Arthur C. Clarke's Islands in the Sky?

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229932)

Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke. A kid wins a contest and wins a trip to a space station as the prize. While on board he learns about microgravity environments, and due to an emergency, gets to travel to various other stations (a Zero G hospital, a communications station, a space hotel). A good, light read.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226022)

Which indicates there is a simple and obvious solution for extinguishing a fire in a spacecraft: just vent it out to space. The astronauts can just hold their breath, right?

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226230)

That's a nice notion. However, there's a wicked problem with the bends. People say "your blood will boil", but that's not actually what happens; the bubbles will be dissolved gasses coming out of solution. even if you go with a straight oxygen environment (which we learned was a "bad idea" in the Apollo program), the oxygen dissolved in the astronaut's blood will come out of solution. Unfortunately, it won't dissolve again very quickly, which will leave you with bubbles in bad places, like the brain and lungs.

You're also making the assumption that you have enough stored gas (call it air) to repressurize the spacecraft. Even if you live through the depressurization and repressurization, you haven't addressed the source of the fire, which will likely re-ignite. As long as spacecraft are small, gold-plated things, designing to current fire specs is a given. However, as they evolve into large vehicles, designing fire-proofing into everythign will become less and less feasible. People will want to bring clothes and food and shit like that.

The other major thing to be considered is that while droplets behave differently, we also haven't looked at explosive combustion. I suspect it will be very similar. However, we might find that it's very different. Right now we cover military pilots in polyaramids, and accept that paying passengers are probably going to die in a flash fire. The assumption behind the flight suit is that the pilot's on an O2 mask, and so the lungs will be protected. Flash fires might behave very differently, and fire is a complex, complex beast.

I've lived through a fire in an airplane, and it's scarry as fuck. Fortuantely, the aerospace community is very aware of it and designs against it.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226390)

While I appreciate your thorough analysis of my proposed solution, please keep in mind: I was joking!

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226640)

You, obviously joking. The slashtards, though, well, I have great faith in the stupidity of humanity, individually and in groups.

slashtards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228192)

But you took the time to write that... ;)

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2, Informative)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226652)

People say "your blood will boil", but that's not actually what happens; the bubbles will be dissolved gasses coming out of solution.

Um, that's the definition of boiling: Dissolved gasses coming out of solution. Can be induced by heating the fluid, lowering the atmospheric pressure, or both.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Informative)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227060)

Pretty sure boiling means the phase transition between liquid and gas.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227928)

You're an idiot.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228622)

your mom has a penis.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227122)

Um, no it isn't.

Boiling means the molecules of a substance are changing from liquid into gas. If you boil water, for example, you are not starting with a solution of steam dissolved in water. That statement doesn't make sense. You are just changing the water (which is not a solution if it is pure) from one phase to another.

Boiling is boiling. Dissolved gasses coming out of solution is entirely different. An example of the latter would be the carbon dioxide bubbles that are released when you open a can of soda.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Informative)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227152)

People say "your blood will boil", but that's not actually what happens; the bubbles will be dissolved gasses coming out of solution.

Um, that's the definition of boiling: Dissolved gasses coming out of solution. Can be induced by heating the fluid, lowering the atmospheric pressure, or both.

I'm not sure either of you are right. Boiling is when something changes state from liquid to gas. If you lower pressure enough, your blood (the water in it anyway) would literally boil at room temperature. However, decompression sickness - gases coming out of solution - is a different phenomenon that would probably happen first (at a higher pressure).

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227844)

in this context, i don't think the phrase "your blood will boil" was ever intended to be technically correct or scientifically accurate. i believe the phrase was intended to convey how bad the situation is, how bad the situation will feel, and how deadly the situation is. in short, "your blood will boil" is intended to convey "you will hurt like a mutha-fscker and die".

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227338)

People say "your blood will boil", but that's not actually what happens; the bubbles will be dissolved gasses coming out of solution.

Um, that's the definition of boiling: Dissolved gasses coming out of solution. Can be induced by heating the fluid, lowering the atmospheric pressure, or both.

Boiling is actually the transition of the liquid into a gas, not gasses dissolved in the liquid coming out of solution. They look incredibly similar, but boiling can happen with a pure liquid, while dissolved gasses kind of by definition cannot come out of solution in a pure liquid. (Yes, the liquid turns to a gas and then kind of dissolves itself in the liquid, but it turns out that a gaseous form of a substance dissolved in the liquid form of that same substance is indistinguishable from the liquid itself.)

So, on the first hand, the meaning of "boiling blood" means blood, wherein the liquid medium itself is actually turning into a gas, and thus generating gaseous bubbles, while blood with the gasses coming out of solution is itself not turning into a gas... (the later happening at lower temps, and higher pressures than the former.)

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227830)

No, boiling is the substance itself becoming gaseous.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226826)

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if a quick flush would in fact cause the bends if re-compression was prompt. People can operate at pretty low PSI (space suits are 4.3, atmospheric at sea level is 14.7). Would momentary decompression be a large risk if it was brief enough (my personal knowledge of DCS is only in regards to SCUBA which is obviously on the much higher pressure side of things). My understanding was that DCS normally takes a small period of time to develop that might give a window, though I would guess there would be other problems with high speed decompression. A better bet would probably be to do a halon flush with temporary breathing tanks though as it would avoid the whole issue of pressure change.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227472)

Yea, I think donning a breathing apparatus and flushing the atmosphere with something inert would be better. It would also give you more of a chance of recovering what was still viable in that atmosphere.

You'd have to make sure it was a closed breather though, else the exhaust would just serve to provide oxidizer.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38228840)

Actually, now that I think about it more, since there is no convection, you might be able to just use a halon extinguisher. Using a dense gas to push out the oxygen in the immediate area should be sufficient without requiring a full flush of the atmosphere. The clean up might be a little tricky after and breathing apparatus would still be a very good idea, but it could save energy which is at a premium in space.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (2)

blackanvil (1147329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227646)

"You're also making the assumption that you have enough stored gas (call it air) to repressurize the spacecraft." Since the pressure on a space station 1atm (according to wikipedia, at least), you could depressurize to 1/10th that, low enough to squelch combustion, by using a giant hefty bag out in space to hold it until the fire's out, then pump it back in. Ok, a giant heatproof hefty bag that can hold in 1/10th atm.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

Nate_weather_guy (203228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227754)

The temperature and pressure at which water boils are interrelated. If you access a "steam table" from an engineering thermodynamics textbook, look at a table entitled "properties of saturated water, temperature table," you will find an entry called "saturation pressure." That is the pressure at which water boils at that temperature. If you look at something near your body temperature, say, 38 degrees C, the pressure is about 0.066 bars (or about .066 atmospheres). If you are in the upper atmosphere or in space with no pressurized suit and the pressure is below 0.066 atmospheres, your blood will boil.

This is not a complete answer to this question, however. There are concerns about bubbles of nitrogen ("the bends") due to rapid depressurization, etc. that also need to be addressed.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226518)

It's not as totally and completely insane as it sounds. Generally, people will recover from exposure to vacuum on their own if the exposure is short (less than 30s) and with surprisingly minor injuries if exposure is less than 90s. And that's without training and a warning of what's going to happen, given proper planning and equipment I suspect you could push the survival rate to the high 90%s, maybe even to two 9's.

Given the choice between burning to death in inescapable zero-g fire and an automated 15 second emergency purge, with a quick re-pressurization system, O2 masks for quicker recovery, and the ability to manage air pressure afterwards to treat the bends... personally, I'd give it a shot. The only real question mark is if the source of the fire has been taken care of. If it's an ongoing short you might find yourself in the same boat you started in, but even that could be addressed by re-pressurizing the spacecraft with nitrogen and relying on O2 masks for the crew until everything is straightened out.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

slim (1652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227180)

Yeah, I know you were only being flippant, but...

There's a reason scuba divers are told to *never* hold their breath. If you don't release pressure from your lungs as the ambient pressure decreases (when diving, by ascending), you'll do catastrophic damage to your lungs.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (4, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229122)

If you don't release pressure from your lungs as the ambient pressure decreases (when diving, by ascending), you'll do catastrophic damage to your lungs.

Not holding your breath in a vacuum presents another problem though. Gas exchange in your lungs is a passive process, driven by concentration gradients. As the partial pressure of O2 in your alveoli drops to zero, the diffusion goes into reverse; blood passing through your lungs actually has its remaining oxygen content sucked out, causing you to black out almost instantly.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226024)

That's kinda the problem though. Since there is no gravity, there is no thermally induced mass flow. It doesn't matter that hot gas has a lower density: There is no gravity that would cause the denser oxygen rich atmosphere to displace the combustion products. To anthropomorphize the situation: The hot gas wants to rise, but in zero gravity, there is no up.

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226152)

I bet fires caused by leaking gas or fluid lines, constrained by nothing but the opposition of the escaping material's inertia and the friction of the surrounding atmosphere, are pretty freaky looking though... Unlike on the ground, where the jet of flame eventually rises, if it's sufficiently low-density, or eventually falls on the ground and burns there, if it is a dense-ish liquid of some sort, you'd conceivably end up with a near-perfect expanding cone(preceded by an invisible-but-toxic-and-piping-hot zone of combustion products)...

Re:There is no FIRE IN SPACE YOU DUMBA (0)

SebZero (1051264) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226060)

I find people - as a whole - tend to surround themselves or fill most of their thoracic cavities with a 1/5th mixture of this burn-y oxygen stuff. Wait I'm a dumb-ass and can't work out why this is relevent to humans in space - help me here.

Cruel Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228344)

space fire got him before he could finish his last sentence

In case of fire: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226004)

DO open the window.

Re:In case of fire: (2)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226092)

Hold your breath first, though.

Seriously, fire on board something like that would be about the scariest thing to deal with. With loss of air or something, you don't have time to panic but if the fires are burning at 100th their normal rate but are large enough to be pretty much unextinguishable, you've got a lot of fighting to do before you eventually end up burning.

It'll get into every possible escape route and keep following you, it'll slowly suck up all fuel everywhere (can't just "move stuff away" if the *fire* is floating about), it'll be unpredictable and hard to tell when it's gone out, and it'll get into everything. And you're in a confined tin that you're relying on staying all in one piece to get back home at any point.

The question is: why haven't we researched this more already?

Re:In case of fire: (5, Informative)

2fuf (993808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226228)

relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSqOqRACxUM [youtube.com] (fire at the MIR station)

Re:In case of fire: (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227036)

..also known as the Russians got there first... as with most things in space

they have done a lot of research on space stations already, they did send up 7 of them, have one manned for 10 years ... and built quite a significant proportion of the ISS ...

The rest of the world have so far built 2 space stations, one is the ISS, jointly with Russia ...

Re:In case of fire: (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227652)

Hold your breath first, though.

Do NOT hold your breath in the case of sudden decompression. Rapid decompression is entirely survivable if you're recompressed within a minute or two, but holding your breath results in some very nasty damage to your lungs (essentially, your alveoli burst) that would not otherwise occur if you exhaled.

To quote Miller from Event Horizon (1)

iB1 (837987) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226082)

"Have you ever seen fire in zero gravity? It's beautiful. It's like liquid it... slides all over everything. Comes up in waves." I know it's not the same thing, but it reminded me of that film that I haven't watched in a while...

Re:To quote Miller from Event Horizon (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226610)

I absolutely love that movie. Sam Neil is one creepy dude (also see: In the Mouth of Madness).

Don't Yank our Funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226090)

I always read statements like "and it could also have practical benefits here on Earth" as "and please don't yank our funding." I agree that everything done on the space station has the potential to help us out here on earth, but I'd be curious if anyone has any idea what the practical benefits of this experiment could be.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226182)

but I'd be curious if anyone has any idea what the practical benefits of this experiment could be.

Without basic science, you don't get applied science.

I sure wish the know-nothing "hurr why study fruit flies? hurr!" idiots would fucking understand this.

But no. They get in their cars and drive, use computers, talk on cellphones, dance at the club to kilowatts of audio, eat, drink, and be merry and then decry the amount of money we spend on basic science to make all that possible.

Don't like money spent on basic science? Go live in a yurt.

--
BMO

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226636)

Don't like money spent on basic science? Go live in a yurt.

We all know what a yurt is, but the types that you are referring this question to will laugh at you thinking you can't live inside a yogurt...

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226902)

>

Don't like money spent on basic science? Go live in a yurt.

--
BMO

What you mean I got give fruit to Yang so he can eat while he study whether black yak felt make better yurt than white yak felt? White yak felt good enough for dad, and he live to be 27! No steal my stuff with your "taxes" trick! It MY stuff! MY Stuff! No Steal My Stuff! Urgh! (dies with spear in gut).

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227166)

You do know that we went from the founding of this country to 1913 without an income tax, right? Contrary to the popular meme, taxes!=civilization, nor do they buy it. Indeed, the great Khans, who were the opposite of civilized, loved taxes. Apropos to the yurt comment.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227654)

I have to assume by 'the founding of this country', you mean the statehood of Arizona in 1912? Because otherwise, you'd be wrong - income tax was imposed intermittently before that - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States . It's irrelevant anyway, since there were plenty of other taxes.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229140)

I see, so you are saying that the United States was only civilized during the Civil War, and somewhat in 1894 (when the top 10% of earners was taxed at 2 whole percent), and then descended back into barbarism in 1895 when the tax was found to be unconstitutional? You know, where there were no other income taxes other than those two?

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38229972)

What on Earth are you talking about? The Khans built a very impressive civilization with those taxes. They may not have been what we today call "civil", but neither were the Romans who couldn't manage the empire we modeled our nation after without their gladiators and slaves.

Besides the civil/civilization mix-up, you're also confused about the difference between taxation in general and the income tax as one of the many methods of collecting taxes. We've always had taxes. Remember that little Tea Party thing? That was about taxes collected to fund the British Empire. Now if you have a better way of building a civilization without the use of funds collected from private citizens or organizations, by all means, we're waiting.

Didn't we just have a story about how Ron Paul's supporters were the same kind of blind followers as Republicans and Democrats? Thanks for the wonderful example.

PS- be careful throwing that 'meme' word around as an insult when that's all you have to bring to a conversation.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227030)

Thank your for the word of the day, "yurt". I will incorporate it into future posts, such as "May the tension bands of your yurt give way whilst you are standing beside them, such that you are struck in the face with great and unexpected force" and "May your yurt burn down and consume you as you sleep" and "Yo momma lives in a yurt".

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (3, Insightful)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227064)

One day sir, you may tax it. - Faraday's reply to William Gladstone, then British Chancellor of the Exchequer (minister of finance), when asked of the practical value of electricity (1850)

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227220)

you are making me so angry for opposing my ignorant ideology that i am forced to rant in reply to you using this microprocesser based computer which will transmit the information over fiber optics which will appear on your lcd screen. god gave us those things, you evil sorcerer

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (1)

tburkhol (121842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227714)

TFA indicates that the heptane fuel continues to combust after the flames are extinguished. That seems pretty inconsistent with at least my understanding of "combustion" and a pretty good start for some basic research with potential application. eg: if you can burn a lump of coal without a flame - convert the carbons to carbon dioxide without mucking with the sulfur, thorium, and other elements in the coal, coal would be a much more attractive fuel.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228932)

Your comment is offensive to those of us in the filed of yurt science.

Re:Don't Yank our Funding (2)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226500)

I don't know if this is still part of it, but somewhere years back I read that NASA was planning on experimenting with different types of water spraying nozzels on the ISS, IIRC there was a micro-nozzle that sprayed a mist using substantially less water than a regular nozzle and the mist put out fires more effectively than gallons of water in a narrow stream.

Those interested can Google Fine Water Mist and Fire, they did some microgravity testing on a KC-135.

Hal Clements did a neat story on that (2)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226118)

``Fireproof'' I think it was, in his collection _Space Lash (formerly published as _Small Changes_)_.

Looks like his theorization on the science was good (as it usually is).

That book, and The Mad Scientists Club books made a huge impact in my childhood.

Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226138)

Why does everything have to be some stupid ass acronym?

Re:Why? (5, Funny)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226188)

Are you referring to the WDEHTBSSAA effect?

Re:Why? (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226268)

Agreed, SAAs (Stupid Ass Acronyms) should be banned.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227190)

You should join the SAAsSBBC.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

mattie_p (2512046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226154)

Screaming is different, too, from what I've heard. Or did I?

Slow burns are a safety concern... (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226168)

There is an increased risk of singed cheek hair on the members of the 200 Mile High Blue Flamer's Club.

What's the big deal? (4, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226208)

We all know what to do if a fire breaks out in a spaceship or station. Didn't you people watch Red Planet?

You grab your fire extinguisher, point it at the fire, release the locking pin, pull the handle and get propelled across the room due to no gravity holding you in place and the fire retardant being ejected from the nozzle

Come on you geeks, get with the program!

Re:What's the big deal? (1)

ravnous (301936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226582)

Or WALL-E?

Microgravity, not Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226348)

Remember the fire triangle: fuel, heat, oxygen. I wouldn't imagine space providing enough oxygen to sustain a fire, and space is depicted as being cold. Conditions within our crafts (and the ISS) are a different matter. Our crafts carry oxygen to support crew. So, the real issue is how does fire behave in microgravity.

Re:Microgravity, not Space (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227788)

Which, if you read the fucking summary, is exactly what is being asked.

Great Stuff NASA (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226368)

Don't mix pure oxygen and Vaseline, that is my top tip for a white hot hypergolic reaction. Many other materials are hypergolic as well, including may fatty foods ...

Wise choice of acronym (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226478)

Because FLEE would have been too unfortunate for a Space Station.

Ob "benefits here on earth" debunking (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38226680)

If you're trapped in a free-falling elevator, whether it's on fire or not is probably the least (or briefest) of your worries.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38226756)

They needed a study to figure this out? Likely, our tax dollars will be spent to figure out the rotational force produced by a sneeze. Didn't anyone think of this in the past 30 years of space travel? o.0

Re:Really? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227212)

They needed a study to figure this out? Likely, our tax dollars will be spent to figure out the rotational force produced by a sneeze. Didn't anyone think of this in the past 30 years of space travel? o.0

yeah they forgot what they did 10 years ago there..

How about M-80s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38227280)

Do they blow up army men the same?

Can't believe it's gone this long ... (-1, Redundant)

giltnerj0 (210486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38227608)

Have you ever seen fire in zero gravity?
It's beautiful. It's like liquid it... slides all over everything. Comes up in waves.

Decommissioned Shuttles.... (2)

TommyGunnRX (756664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38228790)

If the DoD was involved they could just launch a decommissioned space shuttle and set it ablaze... Then when it falls back to earth market it as a chance to win a piece of the shuttle! Talk about a great PR move!

finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38228832)

one has to ask .. after all this time:"how many billions dollars does it need to extinguish a fire in zero gravity?"
sheesh, after discovering fire thousands of years ago after climbing down from trees, one would expect this would be
like .. duh .. the first experiment one would do in outerspace?

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