Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 Shows Harmful Effects on the Environment | Tech Times

Are rocket launches harmful to the environment?

A new study published on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, based on the Falcon 9 by Elon Musk’s SpaceX suggests that space flights produce a significant amount of carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere. It was modeled after Falcon 9’s fumes and exhaust from a launch of up to 42 miles into the atmosphere.  The Falcon 9 comes with kerosene-based fuel that produces CO2.

The Findings

Researchers found that the CO2 emitted by the rocket wasn’t that significant in the lower atmosphere compared to the surrounding air. This is due to the speed of the rocker and the denser concentration of gases in the lower atmosphere.

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 Launches For International Space Station

(Photo : Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – APRIL 27: In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA),A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASAs SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts.

In the mesosphere, it’s a whole different store. The mesosphere that is 30 to 50 miles above Earth, there is thinner air; hence, the exhaust of the rocket becomes more significant. As the rocket travels 1km, it emits the same amount of CO2 the same in 26 cubic km of the surrounding air.

These results can help rocket scientists help reduce the potential climate and health impacts before rocket launches become more common. An aerospace engineer at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus Dimitris Drikakis said:

“In the short term, there is no concern because we are still at the experimental stage. But in the longer term, where this will become a more common situation, then this is where the problem may arise unless we do something about it.”

Another study conducted last year also found an increase in the levels of greenhouse gases in the mesosphere that causes that layer to cool down and shrink.

Along with CO2, rocket launches can also produce considerable amounts of nitrogen oxides in the lower atmosphere, which could lead to serious respiratory issues and acid rain.

Also Read: Blue Origin Wants to DOUBLE its Space Flights in 2022 | Another New Shepard Rocket Coming?

The Rise of Space Flights

It seems that space flights are now a thing for the affluent-along with Elon Musk, other billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are sending rockets to space.

In July last year, Bezos marked its first space flight with Blue Origin, while in April 2022, SpaceX sent three private citizens to the International Space Station, which makes them the first-ever non-professional astronauts to visit the orbiting station. All of these space travels cost millions of dollars.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, on the other hand, offers a more affordable space flight that costs $450,000 per ticket.

Although space flights are very limited now, and only the wealthy can afford them, it’s not impossible for them to be the “norm” in the coming years. However, the new study that shows how these launches can be harmful to the environment, it could lead to a climate crisis in the future.

The co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Nicosia, Ioannis Kokkinakis said, “We show that pollution from rockets should not be underestimated as frequent future rocket launches could have a significant cumulative effect on the Earth’s climate.”

Related article: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 to Launch Human Muscle Cells into Space to Uncover the Secrets of Aging

This article is owned by Tech Times

Written by April Fowell

ⓒ 2022 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Source: Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 Shows Harmful Effects on the Environment | Tech Times