Launching fireworks in a near-zero-oxygen environment is completely feasible, says Stefan Bossmann, a chemist and rocket enthusiast at Kansas State University: "That would be no problem at all. They have an oxidizer, and they have a reductant." That chemistry is not reliant upon oxygen, and similar reactions are responsible for powering space-shuttle thrusters and other large space-borne rockets.
The trouble would come after launch, when the bursting charge releases and ignites the colorant pellets. The reaction that imparts a rocket's metals and metal salts with enough energy to change pretty colors requires oxygen. Unless your fireworks were specially designed for bursting in space, their colors would quickly fizzle out. "There may be some color in the initial explosion," says Bossmann, "but it wouldn't be half as spectacular as what you see on the Fourth of July."
Even with space-enabled fireworks, a burst wouldn't have any thunder. With no atmosphere to propagate sound waves, even the loudest of rockets would be reduced to silence.
Have a burning science question you'd like to see answered in our FYI section? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @popsci hashtag #PopSciFYI.
This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Popular Science. See the rest of the magazine here.
Sooooo, we won't be requesting the ISS to launch fireworks festivial for us on the 4th of July, alrighty..... then.
but the shape would be something completely different.
It wouldnt "fall" down.
just as Linda explained I am shocked that a mom can profit $6614 in a few weeks on the computer. did you look at this page......... www.bay95.com
While Lili sarow and odalysrowan11 raised some salient points, I'd also like to add that the firework would travel a fair bit further in outer space as negligible gravity and the explosion would also go futher as as negligible friction/gravity so would spread out in all directions until it ran out of momentum rather than forced to the ground. Most importantly though, always wait a few minutes before approaching the spent firework or you may be blown into the phantom zone.
Jeromicaon is mostly right. But what do you mean by "...until it ran out of momentum" ?
Earthbound explosions run out of momentum because they use up their energy pushing air out of the way. While granting that space is not a perfect vaccuum, it is close enough that the burn would be completed long before any of the particles "ran out of momentum, by perhaps years.
I also disagree with the original author who correctly noted that the propellent has its own oxidizer, but incorrectly assumes that the colorful burst does not, and requires atmospheric oxygen to burn. Both the propellant and the bust material are basically gun powder, with salt peter as the oxidizer. The colors are a product of the burn temperature, which is itself determined by what is being burned by the oxidizer.
As Jeromicon said, the burst would be much larger, but due only to the lack of atmosphere in the way, not by any affect of gravity. Without gravity the bursts would remain spherical, and contiue to expand instead of stopping and sagging, resulting in the colors being less intense because their size was not held in check by air.
And yes, the last sentense in my previous post incorrectly combined the affects of atmosphere and gravity. Corrected, without gravity the bursts would remain spherical, not sagging toward the earth. And without the affects of atmosphere the bursts would continue to expand long after the burn was completed.
A new look a the graphic accompanying the article shows fireworks in space as if they were launced from the ground, and just into space, not into orbit. That makes a big difference.
Wonder commented about them being launced by the ISS, which would make a lot more sense exonomically, but would not be technically necessary.
If they were launced from the ground, not from an orbiting craft, and just into space, not into orbit, then gravity would indeed affect the bursts. The bursts would sag the same as those launced much lower by smaller rockets. The only difference would be that they would be larger due to no air in the way.
Only just stumbled on your reply I'm afraid - no reply function so no way of knowing which is a shame.
By explosion I didn't mean just the burn phase - I meant the debris spreading out in all directions until it stops.
You may well be right about the perfect vacuum/years - I've not studied the subject in any depth and in all honesty I wouldn't know what equations to use to work it out anyway. I was going purely on something I'd read about space not being a perfect vacuum so I assumed there'd be something opposing the debris.
I see what you're saying about gravity not being a factor in the burst radius. While that'd be right in deep space, I was specifically comparing to a firework explosion as we know it - i.e. above the ground of planet Earth. As the debris accelerates to the ground, can we say it has stopped moving outward completely doue to friction? If not then gravity is a limiting factor along with the friction of the atmosphere.
I should probably have prefixed my comment with the fact that I'm not suitably qualified to submit anything that would stand up to any kind of scientific srutiny.
Perhaps better to view it as a layman's idle speculation.