Fluids Integrated Rack - Fluids and Combustion Facility (FIR) - 02.13.19

Summary | Overview | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) is a complementary fluid physics research facility designed to host investigations in areas such as colloids, gels, bubbles, wetting and capillary action, and phase changes, including boiling and condensation.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Robert R. Corban, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Facility Details

OpNom: FIR

Facility Manager(s)
NANCY Rabel HALL, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States

Facility Representative(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s) Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2009 - September 2012; March 2013 - March 2016; September 2016 - September 2017; February 2018 - October 2018

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending


  • Onboard
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    Facility Description

    Facility Overview

    Fluids under microgravity conditions perform differently from those on Earth. Understanding how fluids react in these conditions will lead to improved designs on fuel tanks, water systems, and other fluid-based systems.
    The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) provides a central location onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for fluid physics investigations into such areas as complex fluids (colloids and gels), instabilities (bubbles), interfacial phenomena (wetting and capillary action), and phase changes (boiling and condensation).
    The Fluids Integrated Rack is one of two powered racks that compose the Fluids and Combustion Facility (FCF) on the International Space Station (ISS). The other rack is the Combustion Integrated Rack (CIR). The FCF accommodates the unique challenges of working with fluids and combustion processes in microgravity and provides services and capabilities comparable to those found in traditional Earth-based laboratories. To isolate the delicate experiments that are conducted within the FCF from the vibration caused by the ISS systems and crew, the CIR employs the Passive Rack Isolation System (PaRIS), and the FIR employs the Active Rack Isolation System (ARIS), that has been used extensively by the EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) racks on the ISS. The FCF is a permanent, modular, multiuser facility that accommodates microgravity science experiments onboard the ISS. The FCF supports sustained, systematic research in the disciplines of fluid physics and combustion science.
    The FIR features a large, user-configurable volume for experiments. The volume resembles a laboratory optics bench. Experiments can be built up on the bench from components, attached as a self-contained package, or a combination of the two. The FIR provides data acquisition and control, sensor interfaces, laser and white light sources, advanced imaging capabilities, power, cooling, and other resources. Astronauts can quickly mount and set up the experiment, and final operations can be accomplished by remote control from the FCF Telescience Support Center at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, or from the principal investigator's home institution. The FIR offers crew members easy access to the back of the optics bench for maintenance and experiment reconfiguration.
    The FIR is built to accommodate a wide range of experiments. The fluid physics research focuses on complex fluids, interfacial phenomena, dynamics and instabilities, multiphase flows, and phase changes. Investigations range from fundamental research to technology development in support of the NASA exploration missions and include life support, power, propulsion, and thermal control systems. The FIR minimizes upmass by using different modules capable of supporting various types of experiments.
    The FIR makes use of the Light Microscopy Module (LMM). The LMM is an automated microscope that allows flexible imaging (e.g., bright field, dark field, phase contrast) for physical and biological experiments, and can be controlled remotely (commanded from the ground). The LMM includes a glovebox for on-orbit sample manipulation and fluid containment.  This unique capability supports a wide range of experiments that require visual imaging of a small test sample.
    The FIR uses minimal crew time during on-orbit operation. The crew participates in reconfigurations that are specific to each experiment. Reconfiguration consists of installing experiment hardware, and configuring the diagnostic equipment on the optics bench. After the experiment is installed, the overall operation is controlled by ground teams at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH. The ISS crew periodically performs change-outs of test cells and experiment resources. Most of the data (images and diagnostic data) is transmitted to the ground. The data hard drives in the FIR are easily replaced on-orbit if needed.

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    Facility Operations

    • The FIR houses various types of fluid physics experiments and requires the ISS crew to perform equipment changeouts.
    • Crew members set up the equipment in the FIR for experiment operations being performed remotely.

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    Decadal Survey Recommendations

    Information Pending

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    Results/More Information

    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

      Moss LA, Just ML, Grodsinsky C, Heese JA, Humphreys BT.  Microgravity Environment Predictions and Control for the Fluids Integrated Rack. 42nd Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, NV; 2004

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    Related Websites

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    image The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) shown with the doors open and the optics bench (hollow box-like structure) translated out of the rack.
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    image The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) shown with the doors open and the optics bench rotated down to allow the International Space Station crew on-orbit access to set up and maintain the experiments.
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    image The Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) is shown with the door open. Inside, the Light Microscopy Module (LMM), an optical microscope, is shown mounted to the optics bench.
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    NASA Image: ISS021E033218 - Canadian  Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Robert Thirsk working to install the Light Microscopy Module (LMM) on the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) in the U.S. Laboratory/Destiny.

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    NASA Image: ISS021E011438 - NASA astronaut Nicole Stott installs hardware in the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.

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    NASA Image: ISS021E011440 - NASA astronaut Nicole Stott installs hardware in the Fluids Integrated Rack (FIR) in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station.

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