Normally, space and fire don’t mix well, but NASA is deliberately going to cause a “large fire” inside a Cygnus resupply vessel just to see what happens. The rocket’s launching tonight, and as always, you can watch live.

The first part of Cygnus’s mission should hopefully not involve any fire at all: the rocket will rendevous with the ISS, unloading supplies and new experiments. Once it’s done that, the craft will launch five tiny CubeSats, then reposition in a lower orbit away from the ISS, and gently combust. The fire is supposed to be a meter in length, and the hope is that watching a fire in microgravity, inside a spaceship, will give NASA useful insights for future missions.

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The launch window opens at 2305 Eastern, and assuming that nothing goes wrong (not taken for granted these days), Cygnus will rendezvous with the ISS at 6AM Saturday morning.

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Update 2315: So far, so good! The initial launch went to plan, so the next big potential pitfall is the docking on Saturday, assuming there’s no accidental fires before then.