The renowned quote of Star Trek, “Space, the final frontier“, has now become a myth.
Ultimately, the space tourism industry plans to bring humans beyond the imagination and make space just another tourism location.
Yet, while the dreams come true, researchers and environmentalists have begun to worry about Earth’s atmosphere and possible damage to physical geography.
Do you know just in the previous year, governments and organizations across the world projected 133 rockets?
Manufacturers such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic appear determined to lead the industry.
Do you know what happens to the upper atmosphere when a rocket launches?
There are before and after effects that threaten, humans, Earth, and the stratospheric ozone layer.
Keep reading to find the details and more research about the rocket launch!
- What is the carbon footprint of space travel?
- What are the environmental impacts of rocket fuel?
- What is SpaceX?
What is the carbon footprint of space travel?
In the case of transportation, a person’s carbon footprint is calculated based on the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit in one kilometer of travel.
Alongside carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas such as:
- Nitrous oxide,
- Black carbon,
- Ozone and,
- Water vapor is included as well.
In the case of space launches, multiple rockets use liquid hydrogen fuels to propel.
These fuels produce clean water vapor. Yet, the existence of hydrogen production causes carbon emissions.
Thus, rocket launch emissions leave a considerable amount of carbon footprint.
These commercial space flights raise alarms for space tourism, as the billionaire space race of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson with rockets can be another name for one giant leap into pollution.
What are the environmental impacts of rocket fuel?
Rockets use different kinds of fuels to lift off the surface of Earth and those fuels fit into two categories: solid and liquid.
As the fuel adds extra weight to the rocket, over time, scientists developed different combinations to increase safety and landing possibilities.
For example, NASA and some private agencies in the space industry use both liquid (such as liquid oxygen) and solid rocket boosters – such as powdered aluminum.
Yet, those fuels cause different rocket emissions, and some of them damage the Earth’s stratosphere.
The gases also harm the upper atmosphere and the ozone layer, and carbon capture doesn’t change the effect of rocket exhaust.
Also, more researches provide researchers with data that rocket launches also affect the increase of space junk.
So, are reusable rockets better for the environment?
Considering the launch and carbon emissions, reusable rockets are worse than others.
How much pollution do rockets produce?
During the launch process, rockets use different fuels and other elements for propellants. Rocket launches emit the composition of these propellants, which causes air pollution.
For example, NASA’s space shuttle mainly produces hydrochloric acid, water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, alumina, and black carbon.
Meanwhile, SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket produces carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, hydroxyl, and nitrogen oxides.
Similarly, Blue origin’s New Shepard and other rockets produce propellants that affect the global environment.
What is SpaceX?
SpaceX, also known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is an American spacecraft manufacturer and space launch provider, located in Hawthorne, California.
It was founded by Elon Musk in 2002 and has the purpose to reduce space transportation costs. They launched SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy and aim their destination to Mars.
They’re one of the leading names for space tourism.
What kind of fuel does a SpaceX rocket use?
The Falcon 9 rocket uses kerosene and methane-based fuels.
SpaceX Starship is designed to use liquid oxygen and liquid methane for propellant.
How environmentally friendly is SpaceX?
While SpaceX stayed true to its purpose based on cost, studies show that the fumes of SpaceX Falcon 9 have the potential to damage health and climate.
The rocket uses kerosene and methane-based fuels emits nitrogen oxides and other elements that aren’t good for human health.
While space tourism is anticipated by many, we cannot ignore the danger one rocket launch and crewed missions of agencies cause to humans and the environment, including the ozone layer.
The different kinds of fuels rockets utilize to lift off the surface of Earth produce carbon emissions with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other elements of greenhouse gas.
Although current data isn’t enough to fully assess the influence, fortunately, people are more aware of the pollution problem of rocket launches.
This awareness affects the future design of rockets and plays an essential role in their development.