ZIN Technologies, an advanced technology engineering and aerospace firm in Middleburg Heights, has been supporting NASA and the NASA Glenn Research Center for decades.
Spanning science and engineering, our management and engineering team produced and operated over 150 space flight payloads on Shuttle missions to operations on MIR and now the International Space Station. ZIN has supported NASA and the NASA Glenn missions focusing on fire safety, managing fluids in space and leveraging the unique environment of space and free fall to investigate Physical and Life Science phenomena for Space Exploration and Technology Development.
Over our many years of developing, building and operating these space flight payloads, we have become one of the premier companies supporting our civil space program. One main facility that ZIN built and now operates is the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR), a major physical science facility operating on the International Space Station.
The CIR is a reconfigurable experimental facility designed to accept specific investigation inserts to accommodate combustion and fire safety investigations that support space exploration. One such insert is the Multi-User Droplet Combustion Apparatus – Flame Extinguishment Experiment known as (MDCA-FLEX). This experiment assesses the effectiveness of fire suppressants in space vehicles when in space. It also provides insight and specific information regarding the effects that crew exploration atmospheres have on fire suppression.
The combustion and extinction of liquid fuel droplets in orbit and low gravity are quite complex and different than on Earth. On Earth, fires and their suppression are dictated by the Earth’s gravitational pull; fires in space are not due to the lack of gravity. An understanding of how to suppress and extinguish fires in orbit is critical in real fire scenarios, and thus an understanding of the complex issues involved in the design of an effective fire suppression system is required.
ZIN has been operating the MDCA-FLEX experiment for several years and the false multi-color image below is an example of a flame that was started and then extinguished in orbit on the ISS. Two images are provided. One shows NASA astronaut Ron Garan working with the CIR facility on Expedition 27, installing the MDCA apparatus. The second picture is an image taken in space on the MDCA-FLEX investigation (image courtesy of Paul Ferkul and Dan Dietrich).