Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
If you can read this you are not following too closely.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.

user:
pass:
register,


                                                             

Fireworks in space

  (+5)
(+5)
  [vote for,
against]

Before the ISS is decommissioned, I think it would be quite fun to have the astronauts take up a bunch of consumer fireworks and let them off in space. Obviously they'll need to figure out how to light the touch-paper whilst wearing an EVA suit, but how difficult can that be?

Most regular fireworks should work just fine in space - in fact, better than on Earth. A £5 starburst rocket would hurtle off in a more-or-less straight line, and the shells it emits would likewise radiate in straight lines from the point of explosion. In the absence of an atmosphere, they would probably travel further and faster.

Roman candles would also be quite good, with their little glowy bits carrying on unimpeded by gravity until they fizzled out. Sparklers would be fine, and give the astronauts something to wave around. Bangers (firecrackers, if NASA is paying for this) would be a bit of a disappointment, of course.

MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 24 2019

Norway Sky Spirals https://en.wikipedi...gian_spiral_anomaly
Unexpected firework display [Frankx, Sep 24 2019]

Can astronauts see fireworks from space? https://www.quora.c...ireworks-from-space
Short answer (at least according to this): not really. [doctorremulac3, Sep 24 2019]

NO3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrate
Nitrate [Skewed, Sep 30 2019]

[link]






       // how difficult can that be? //   

       Easy as falling off a log. A high temperature wire filament will give enough thermal energy to start the fuse burning, and it's not oxygen dependent.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2019
  

       Yes, exactly.   

       It's actually easier than falling off a log if you're in effectively zero G.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 24 2019
  

       Actually, a standard electric fuze head would work just as well in vacuum as in normal atmosphere; they certainly function perfectly in 100% CO2, Argon or BCF.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2019
  

       Russia accidentally gave a spectacular firework display over Norway in 2009 [link]. Many puzzled people.   

       It’s got to be a good idea! [+]
Frankx, Sep 24 2019
  

       Sadly namby pamby worries about space junk would prevent this from coming to fruition.
Voice, Sep 24 2019
  

       No need, TCF commercial pyrotechnics are Baked & WKTE.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2019
  

       + for the idea, but those would have to be some very big fireworks to be able to see them.   

       Looked up if any astronauts have ever seen fireworks from space and well, see link.   

       Now you could say the night sky might be darker than the earth providing a better contrast but there's a lot of stars up there that might cancel that advantage.   

       Looking at the link in addition to what some astronauts have said, they have a video of fireworks viewed from a relatively low flying jet liner, maybe 35,000 feet. The ISS is twenty times that height so I guess the fireworks would look twenty times smaller.   

       Plus our atmosphere reflects obscuring light, even in the moonless night sky that would further occlude the view so I'm guessing that this might be fun for the astronauts but not so much for us here on the ground.
doctorremulac3, Sep 24 2019
  

       // very big fireworks//   

       That's just a question of finance; there's no technical barrier.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2019
  

       I'm not expecting anyone on the ground to see them. These days we have video cameras.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 24 2019
  

       Oh, I misunderstood.   

       Yes, for the astronauts this would be awesome, as would the videos.
doctorremulac3, Sep 24 2019
  

       If you're careful, you could "accidentally" damage a <insert enemy-du-jour> spy satellite.
neutrinos_shadow, Sep 24 2019
  

       Not so easy, Mr. Bond ... satellites have to be well-hardened to survive in a very hostile environment; vacuum, high velocity particles, radiation, alternate heating and cooling (on one side only).   

       Even civilian ones are pretty tough; since their programmes aren't exactly cost-driven, military kit can afford to throw on some extra protection.
8th of 7, Sep 24 2019
  

       Being hardened against environmental hazards isn't the same as being hardened against deliberate attack or even accidental explosions.
notexactly, Sep 29 2019
  

       How much delta v do you need from the ISS to make it to thicker atmosphere?
Voice, Sep 29 2019
  

       I’m curious; if the exothermic reaction in a typical firework is not oxidation, then what is it?
pertinax, Sep 29 2019
  

       // isn't the same as being hardened against deliberate attack or even accidental explosions //   

       In orbit, the threat from a 10g meteorite, a wayward M8 bolt, and a deliberately fired 7.62mm round are all pretty similar. Small hard heavy thing, going fast.   

       In vacuo, even close by explosions have minimal effect. There is no atmosphere to transmit a shock wave and the expansion is isotropic. The charge has to be in contact to have an effect, and what you really need is an EFP.   

       Theoretical studies of deploying fusion weapons suggest that the mechanism of action of standoff detonations come from asymmetric superheating of the target and EMP/neutron saturation. Even from a high yield device, there's little or no blast effect - the gadget may weight in at 2000 kg, but 2000 kg of plasma thins out very very fast in a 1 km radius bubble. Close placement is, sorry, would be, all.important.
8th of 7, Sep 29 2019
  

       //if the exothermic reaction in a typical firework is not oxidation, then what is it?// It is oxidation. The oxygen is contributed by a nitrate, chlorate, perchlorate (if you're brave) or whatever.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 30 2019
  

       Took you longer to get a bite there than I expected [Max] ;)   

       Though I (somewhat shamefully) must admit that if it wasn't for my native suspicion (& the assistance of a quick Google) you'd have had me too.
Skewed, Sep 30 2019
  

       Of course, from a physical chemistry aspect, "oxidation" does not actually require a reaction with oxygen.   

       Oxidation and reduction involve the exchange of electrons, changing the "oxidation state" of the atom (ion) involved.   

       <Gently places final items of foliage onto trap, retreats stealthily into undergrowth to await unwary victim/>
8th of 7, Sep 30 2019
  

       // How much delta v do you need from the ISS to make it to thicker atmosphere? //   

       None, if you're willing to wait a few months to a few years. The ISS has to be reboosted periodically to maintain its altitude against drag.   

       // In orbit, the threat from a 10g meteorite, a wayward M8 bokt, and a deliberately fired 7.62mm round are all pretty similar. Small hard heavy thing, going fast. //   

       Satellites aren't often hardened against those things. The normal defense against orbital debris is the same as that used when traveling through the asteroid belt: wishful thinking. Unlike in most situations, it works pretty well here.   

       // In vacuo, even close by explosions have minimal effect. There is no atmosphere to transmit a shock wave and the expansion is isotropic. The charge has to be in contact to have an effect, and what you really need is an EFP. //   

       Indeed. Contribution to orbital debris (burnt-out stars and casing fragments) would the biggest threat posed by fireworks, and it wouldn't be a very severe threat due to drag at that altitude and there being far fewer pieces of debris than from a satellite collision or antisatellite weapon test. But I still think that if a wayward dud firework struck a nearly co-orbiting satellite's solar array or thermal blanket, it would do a small but non-negligible amount of damage. Maybe it would even lodge there, get warmed up, and explode?   

       // trap //   

       Is your trap defeated by my erecting a sign saying "Oxidation != Oxidization"?
notexactly, Sep 30 2019
  

       //A £5 starburst rocket would hurtle off in a more-or-less straight line, and the shells it emits would likewise radiate in straight lines from the point of explosion// - are you sure? There's still gravity in space, so I don't see why the path of the firework would be straight
hippo, Sep 30 2019
  

       Well, technically it would follow an orbital line, orbiting Earth at the speed of the ISS, plus or minus the speed of the rocket itself. But over the length of the rocket's brief flight, that would be an almost straight line.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 30 2019
  

       // act like a retro-rocket //   

       No, it won't.   

       The rocket, unlike a gun, exerts no (or very minimal) reaction force on the carrying vehicle. That's why rockets have been used, from the era of the Le Prieur anti-balloon rocket to the present time, to provide aircraft with heavyweight armament. The launcher is typically a simple open-ended tube, and the system is recoilless.
8th of 7, Sep 30 2019
  

       Makes cannons an excellent aft mounted defense weapon in space though, hit or miss it's extra thrust as you run away every time you fire it.
Skewed, Sep 30 2019
  

       Correct, although coupling the momentum to the structure of your vessel, given the intensity of the impulse, needs careful consideration.
8th of 7, Sep 30 2019
  

       //Well, technically it would follow an orbital line// - although another way of looking at it is that all paths followed in space by objects under the influence of gravity are straight-line paths - it's just gravity curving the space they're traveling through that makes them look curved
hippo, Sep 30 2019
  

       // all paths followed in space by objects under the influence of gravity are straight-line paths - it's just gravity curving the space they're traveling through //   

       I was gonna say that (but less elegantly). I opened my mouth (i.e. the annotation form) before reading your anno, and now I have to say something to justify having opened it.
notexactly, Sep 30 2019
  
      
[annotate]
  


 

back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle