How Much Do Rocket Launches Contribute to Air Pollution?

Thrust, excitement, and the vision for the future are all things that are involved in a space rocket launch. But many feel these launches are not relevant and they are doing harm more than good.

Rocket science is a significant contributor to innovations that as a single sector delivered more innovative products than any other but also work for the betterment of mankind.

But with the privatization of the space race and nowadays when more rockets are going into orbit than ever before, many people are concerned about the impact of rockets on our ecosystem.

We are already in a position where the earth’s temperature is increasing continuously and as humans, we are taking too few steps to control it.

The new interest in space can contribute even more in the present scenario to worsen the currently already alarming situation is a concern that a lot of people share.

How much does a single rocket launch pollute?

It is estimated that each year rocket launches that use RP-1 collectively emit around 1 gigagram or 1000 metric tons of air pollutants into the stratosphere. There are around 150 space rocket launches annually, which on average emit 6 metric tons of air pollutants.

Which is around 1% of the total carbon emission from the aviation sector. which is by the way the most contributing sector to air pollution and global warming.

It is also estimated that in the next couple of years it can reach as much as 10 gigagrams due to increasing rocket launch frequency.

What is the adverse effect of rocket launches?

A single rocket launch injects metric tons of black carbon air pollutants into the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere. This pollutant plays a more alarming concern because it accumulates at high altitudes and absorbs heat, which can lead to the warming of the earth.

Is space tourism worth it at the cost of global warming?

Every innovation takes time to get perfected. But it also opens a large window for progress. Just like the example of the train where we started with steam engines and now using efficient electric locomotives, we may see more innovations to carb the rocket launch carbon footprint.

But at the moment, It is a true concern that the upcoming years will be hard and the new space tourism launches may contribute more pollutants in the upper layers of the earth than ever before which will lead to a global temperature increase.

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