Science in Short: BASS-M, Igniting Innovation on the Space Station

Things have been heating up in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) in the Destiny Lab aboard the International Space Station as NASA astronaut, Tim Kopra performs operations for the BASS-M, a National Lab investigation which came about as a result of a partnership between CASIS and Milliken. Milliken is a commercial company who, among other things, produces custom engineering textiles, including flame-retardant ones used by a variety of industrial markets, such as the military and fire fighters.

Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra performs BASS-M operations in the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox in the Destiny Lab aboard the International Space Station. 

Milliken is interested in seeing how the absence of gravity affects the burning of the textiles and materials. They are testing the hypothesis that materials in microgravity, with adequate ventilation, burn as well, if not better than, the same material being burned here on Earth under the same conditions.

Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra tweeted this picture of a flame from the BASS-M operations. 

The investigation tests 10 different treated flame-retardant cotton fabrics at varying air flow rates, and studies their flammability and their ability to self-extinguish.

Ultimately, Milliken is using innovation in trying to design and engineer the right chemicals so that the textiles don’t burn. This applies specifically to the military and fire-fighters, for whom – if these textiles are designed correctly – could be protected from getting 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

Credit: CASIS

Milliken & Co., one of the largest material companies in the world, will leverage the ISS U.S. National Laboratory to evaluate flame retardant textiles in microgravity. Milliken hopes this experiment will lead to discoveries capable of enhancing materials and clothing used by fire fighters, electrical workers and those in defense industries who are in harm’s way.

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