Philosophical Society of Washington

Minutes of the 2129th Meeting

Speaker: Gregory T. Linteris, Fire Science Division, National Institutes of Science and Technology
Topic: “Fire in Space”

President McDiarmid called the 2129th meeting to order at 8:18 p.m. on March 9, 2001. The Recording Secretary read the minutes of the 2128th meeting and they were approved.

The speaker for the 2129th meeting was Gregory T. Linteris, of the Fire Science Division, National Institutes of Science and Technology. The title of his presentation was “Fire in Space”.

On April 4,1997, the Microgravity Sciences Mission (MSL-1) was launched on STS-83 as the first space lab shuttle mission devoted largely to research on combustion in microgravity. Half of the experiments scheduled for the 16-day mission involved combustion with more than 150 on-board fires planned. However, there was a problem with one of the three fuel cells and it had to be shut down because of the unanticipated fire hazard. To conserve power the crew was compelled to work using small flashlights. The mission was cut short, and the crew returned to earth after 95 hours, 12 minutes, traveling 1.5 million miles in 63 orbits.

NASA decided to refly the mission with the same crew as soon as possible. In the fastest turn-around of a shuttle, STS-94 was launched three months later on July 1, 1997. Eventually, MSL-1 was an especially successful spacelab mission. It went the scheduled 16 days, lasting 376 hours, 45 minutes, and traveled 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits.

Some of the materials and combustion microgravity studies conducted by Greg Linteris as the Payload Specialist Astronaut involved flame structure, droplet burning, soot formation, and the behavior of molten metal. Because some experiments had been conducted on STS-83 despite the power shortage, it was possible to redesign those that had encountered unexpected difficulties and improve the rate of successful completion. Other experiments on MSL-1 involved protein crystallization, green house testing, and acoustic levitation of droplets. A video was shown of the preliminary training and of both missions.

Mr. Linteris kindly answered questions from the floor. President McDiarmid thanked Mr. Linteris for the society, and welcomed him to its membership. Board member Tom Mueller briefly spoke on the benefits of Philosophical Society membership. The President made announcements about the next meeting, parking, and refreshments, and adjourned the 2129th meeting to the social hour at 9:30 p.m.

Attendance: 33
Temperature: 4.9°C
Weather: partly cloudy

Respectfully submitted,
John S. Garavelli
Recording Secretary

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