Space Stations

Saving Lives on Earth and Beyond: Space Station Flame Research Sheds Light on Fire Safety

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 8, 2023
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Saving Lives on Earth and Beyond: Space Station Flame Research Sheds Light on Fire Safety
The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly around of the orbiting lab that took place on Nov. 8, 2021.

A tragic high-rise fire inspired breakthrough research leveraging the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory to reveal startling insights into the behavior of flames in confined spaces. The results have the potential to improve fire safety models and prevent future tragedies.

In the latest issue of Upward, the official magazine of the ISS National Lab, we dive into an investigation of flame spread in confined spaces by Ya-Ting Liao, a research scientist with Case Western Reserve University. London’s tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 inspired Liao to look more closely at how flames behave in confined spaces. The research that followed onboard the space station utilized state-of-the-art hardware in microgravity to address this gap in knowledge, providing crucial insights into flame propagation and interactions with surrounding walls.

The findings could have far-reaching applications, from improving fire safety on spacecraft to new fire protection measures in high-rise buildings.

Upward is dedicated to communicating the results of ISS National Lab-sponsored experiments that demonstrate the value of space-based research and technology development. Read the article “Heating Things Up in Microgravity” for an in-depth story that captures the motivations that drive fundamental research and highlights the intersection of sc

About the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory:

The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the space station are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Inc. (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under Cooperative Agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.