Reliable and efficient fire detection is a precondition for safe spaceflight. The threat of onboard fire is constant and requires early, fast and unfailing detection. Current fire detectors are prone to fatigue and have insufficient sensitivity, selectivity and time-response. Smoke detectors cannot detect early stages of combustion and become unreliable if exposed to dust particulates. New sensor technology is required to face the challenging tasks associated with future space exploration involving missions to the Moon and Mars. Carbon monoxide formation is a reliable indicator of evolving fire threats onboard spacecraft and this gaseous combustion product allows rapid early detection. Vista Photonics proposes to evaluate and implement emerging infrared light sources for high-performance optical CO detection. Optical sensors are particularly favorable due to unique features like fast response, high precision and strong species selectivity. Design criteria such as small footprint, low weight, low power consumption as well as internal calibration and continuous sensor health monitoring will be implemented to provide a spaceflight optimized sensor. The proposed optical absorption approach uses modulation techniques together with a compact path length enhancing cell with a small sample volume.