1991-07-01

A Combustion Products Analyzer for Contingency Use During Thermodegradation Events on Spacecraft 911479

As mission length and the number and complexity of payload experiments increase, so does the probability of thermodegradation contingencies (e.g. fire, chemical release and/or smoke from overheated components or burning materials), which could affect mission success. When a thermodegradation event occurs on board a spacecraft, potentially hazardous levels of toxic gases could be released into the internal atmosphere. Experiences on board the Space Shuttle have clearly demonstrated the possibility of small thermodegradation events occurring during even relatively short missions.
This paper will describe the Combustion Products Analyzer (CPA), which is being developed under the direction of the Toxicology Laboratory at Johnson Space Center to provide necessary data on air quality in the Shuttle following a thermodegradation incident. Using separate electrochemical sensors, the CPA monitors four gases (hydrogen fluoride/carbonyl fluoride, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide), which were selected as the most hazardous compounds likely to be released during thermodegradation of synthetic materials. Electrochemical sensors have been available for several years; the CPA sensors, which are unique because of their small size and zero-gravity compatibility, will be described in detail.

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