NASA engineers are developing a new system to keep a large fire from spreading inside a rocket.
The team of engineers at NASA Langley Research Center said they are testing the new heat-resistant thermal protection system on a rocket called the Falcon Heavy.
The test was conducted this week at a facility in California, according to a NASA press release.
The system uses stainless steel hardware, which is stronger than steel used on traditional rockets.
The company behind the system, Rapid Fire Technologies, said it has built a prototype of the heat-resistance thermal protection that has a resistance of just 1.5 microbarriers per inch (mBar).
Rapid Fire has a contract with NASA for a prototype.
The heat-resistive thermal protection is used to protect the launch vehicle’s upper stage and payload fairing, according the company.
The firefighting systems are part of a $1.6 billion contract between NASA and the military for a new rocket that will launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, according a press release from Rapid Fire.
The new Falcon Heavy will be used for the first of two missions.
The first mission will launch the Delta IV Heavy to an altitude of 1,100 miles (1,600 kilometers) in an attempt to test the company’s new heat resistance thermal protection systems.
The second mission, which will fly a larger satellite, is being developed by NASA and Boeing, according NASA.
The two missions will be carried out on an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg, according Launch Readiness Group, the launch service group that manages the rocket program.
Rapid Fire also plans to launch a communications satellite on an Ariane 5 rocket from a launch pad in the Mojave Desert in California.
The service group said the rocket will carry a satellite that will be launched on the same rocket that the rocket that launched the Falcon 9 rocket earlier this year.
The Falcon Heavy, which was launched on April 15, 2019, will be the first flight of the company, according Rapid Fire founder and chief executive officer Scott MacDonald.
MacDonald told reporters during a conference call Monday that the company has been working on the heat resistance system for some time.
He said that the heat protection will be tested on the company launch vehicle at the Vandenburg facility, but not the Falcon rocket that is expected to launch later this year on an Orbital ATK Atlas V. He noted that the Falcon was launched from a separate pad at Vandenberg.
The SpaceX launch is the first mission to the International Space Station since the company launched the Dragon capsule and successfully landed the spacecraft on land.