NASA

Why is NASA starting a space fire?

An accidental fire on a spacecraft could be catastrophic—that’s why NASA is starting one on purpose, Wired reports. The inferno won’t endanger any astronauts, as it won’t be taking place on a shuttle or on the International Space Station. When the flaming experiment begins in May, it will be the biggest intentional fire ever created in space, burning in a 1x1.5-meter module (pictured) chock full of sensors for measuring fire growth, oxygen, and other characteristics. The capsule will also be loaded with different fabrics and materials to see whether and how they burn. After the experiments, the module will send back data to scientists—and then fall back to Earth. NASA says this experiment will help keep astronauts safe by reducing future fire hazards outside of Earth’s atmosphere.

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