• Question: Could you light a fire in space?

    Asked by Mia☺️ to Xu, Leah-Nani, Kathryn, Ian, Hina, Andrew on 15 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Kathryn Burrows

      Kathryn Burrows answered on 15 Jun 2018:

      No, not in a space itself. But you could inside a spaceship.

    • Photo: Leah-Nani Alconcel

      Leah-Nani Alconcel answered on 18 Jun 2018:

      Not in space, no. Fire needs oxygen and there isn’t enough in space.

    • Photo: Andrew Margetts-Kelly

      Andrew Margetts-Kelly answered on 19 Jun 2018:

      Yes, of course you can.

      Fire is basically material burning that gives off a the hot flare (lots of light and heat).

      As long as you have two or more chemicals that are happy reacting violently with each other you can have fire. Get enough material, close enough & hot enough and it will burn; giving you fire. (Just a bit of trivia, “deflagration” is the technical term for burning spreading through heat, “detonation” is when burning spreads by pressure).

      If for example you had some solid Aluminium power and some solid Strontium Nitrate powder mixed together and you set light to it, it would burn quite happily in space. You you see a beautiful red flame rushing into space. (incidentally this is what red distress flares are made of)

      Could you get you average lighter in the vacuum of space and make a flame though? No!

      Fire is really beautiful in micro-gravity. There was a fire on a Mir space station in 1997 and the cosmonauts described a slowly expanding and contracting sphere of boiling flame that looked like the surface of the sun; they didn’t hang around to look at it though.