- Fumes from SpaceX and Blue Origin rockets could harm health and climate, study finds.
- He said the concentration of nitrogen oxides released by a rocket was “dangerous to human health”.
- Increased launches by commercial space companies can have a big impact on the climate, according to the study.
Pollution from rockets built by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic could harm human health and harm Earth’s climate, a new study has found.
“Rocket Air Pollution,” published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, numerically modeled the exhaust fumes from a standard rocket, similar to one of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9s, at different altitudes.
Increased rocket launches by commercial space companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic “could have a significant cumulative effect on climate,” according to the study. This is due to the amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides produced at each launch, according to the study.
The study found that the concentration of nitrogen oxides, which an ascending rocket releases into two cubic kilometers of atmospheric air, was considered “dangerous to human health” according to World Health Organization standards. health (WHO).
“The impact on the atmosphere will be a crucial factor requiring careful consideration in the design of future rocket launches,” wrote study authors Ioannis Kokkinakis and Dimitris Drikakis.
As the number of commercial rockets increases, the resulting pollution in the atmosphere needs to be examined, the authors added.
A Blue Origin spokesperson told Insider that the New Shepard rocket is “powered by very efficient and clean liquid oxygen and hydrogen” and the only byproduct is “water vapor without carbon emissions.
Blue Origin is planning its fifth human flight to the edge of space in May after already launching its reliable New Shepard rocket in March. Its first mission to launch humans into space was in July when Bezos and his brother were passengers on board.
SpaceX, which builds reusable rockets, completed 31 flights in 2021, which was a record for the company. It plans to launch 60 rockets in 2022, Musk said in a tweet in March.
Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic said it plans to increase sightseeing flights next year, aiming to send customers into space three times a month with its reusable rocket.