Pollution created by rockets from SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic could harm human health and the Earth’s climate, according to new research.
Published Tuesday in the journal Physics of Fluids, “Atmospheric Pollution from Rockets” presents a digital simulation of exhaust from a standard rocket at different altitudes, similar to SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9.
The study said that the increase in the number of 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 impact on climate “, this is because each launch produces a large amount of carbon gas and nitrogen oxides.
The concentration of nitrogen oxides released into 2 cubic kilometers of atmosphere from rising rockets is considered “harmful to human health” according to World Health Organization standards. The authors of the study added that as the number of commercial rocket flights increases, the attendant atmospheric pollution must be investigated.
A Blue Origin spokesman said its New Shepard rocket is “fueled by efficient, clean liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen” and that the only byproduct is “water vapor with no carbon emissions. . Blue Origin is currently planning its fifth manned flight in May, and SpaceX plans to launch 60 rockets this year.