A new study shows that the pollution from rockets built by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic could damage human health and hurt the Earth’s climate.
“Atmospheric pollution from rockets,” published Tuesday in the hour zine that Physics of Fluids digitally designed the exhaust gases from a standard rocket, related to one of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9s, at several altitudes.
The boost in 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,” the study said. According to the survey, this is because of the quantity of carbon gases and nitrogen oxides produced with each launch.
The study established that the concentration of nitrogen oxides, which an ascending rocket broadcasts into two cubic kilometers of atmospheric air, was deemed “hazardous to human health” under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standards.
“The impact on the atmosphere will be a crucial factor requiring careful consideration in the design of future rocket launches,” Ioannis Kokkinakis and Dimitris Drikakis, the study’s authors, composed.
SpaceX, which creates reusable rockets, conducted 31 flights in 2021, a record high for the company. It schedules to launch 60 missiles in 2022, Musk announced in a tweet in March.
In the meantime, Virgin Galactic announced it’s planning to ramp up tourist flights next year, intending to send consumers to space three times per month with its reusable rocket.