Computer models suggest soot particles from the rockets could damage ozone shield that protects life on Earth.
On Wednesday, SpaceX added to its list of considerable accomplishments.
SpaceX launched a commercial communications satellite and landed a rocket on a ship at sea on Wednesday (June 29).
A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday at 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT), carrying the SES-22 communication satellite toward orbit.
About 8.5 minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s first stage came back down to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown on the SpaceX droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
As space expert and pundit Robert Zimmerman notes, this puts American enterprise ahead in the new Space Race.
The leaders in the 2022 launch race:
4 Rocket Lab
American private enterprise now leads China 37 to 21 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 37 to 34.
This is too much success for Americans to enjoy. So environmental science is being used to argue that rocket launches are going to result in damage to the ozone.
SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have sparked a new era of space travel and although these joy rides to the final frontier are exciting, they have a dark side that is accelerating climate change, a new study reveals.
A team of scientists, led by the University of London College, found that black carbon particles emitted by rockets are almost 500 times more efficient at holding heat in the atmosphere than all other sources of soot combined – and this is enhancing global warming.
The findings are based on all rocket launches and re-entries in 2019, along with projected space tourism scenarios based on the recent billionaire space race.
Researchers found, under a scenario of daily or weekly space tourism rocket launches, the impact on the stratospheric ozone layer threatens to undermine the recovery experienced after the successful implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
And this is mainly due to Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s use of kerosene and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s hybrid synthetic rubber fuel, according to researchers.
I will point out the conclusions that were drawn from “modeling.”
This data was then incorporated into a 3D atmospheric chemistry model to explore the impact on climate and the ozone layer.
They found that pollutants from solid-fuel rockets and re-entry heating of returning spacecraft and debris are particularly harmful to stratospheric ozone – and have the potential to speed up global warming, an increasingly dangerous risk given the likelihood of global temperatures going above the 1.5-degree threshold outlined by international governments.
Changes in the Earth’s atmosphere are difficult to predict, as various factors influence them. Ozone concentration, for example, is impacted by solar activity, local pollution, and seasons. I am very skeptical that the modeling is accurate.
It is also important to note that the last time world organizations tried to control ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), one nation continued to use them: China.
Today, the ozone hole still exists, forming every year over Antarctica in the spring. It closes up again over the summer as stratospheric air from lower latitudes is mixed in, patching it up until the following spring when the cycle begins again. But there’s evidence it’s starting to disappear – and recover more or less as expected, says Solomon. Based on scientific assessments, the ozone layer is expected to return to pre-1980 levels around the middle of the century. Healing is slow because of the long lifespan of ozone-depleting molecules. Some persist in the atmosphere for 50 to 150 years before decaying.
Despite the Montreal Protocol’s overall success, there have been setbacks. In 2018, for example, the concentration of CFC-11, banned since 2010, was found to not be coming down as quickly as was expected, suggesting undeclared emissions were coming from somewhere. The Environmental Investigation Agency traced the emissions to factories in China, which were manufacturing it for use in insulation foam. Once made public, the Chinese government quickly clamped down and scientists say we are now back on track.
I somehow doubt China will throttle back on its rocket launches. So, I hope the American space companies will continue to move forward without encountering environmental activist turbulence.
I am also sure China’s disinformation warriors will be hard at work promoting this study. It turns out Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter may pay more dividends than just free speech, as he can help counter disinformation campaigns and keep SpaceX flying.DONATE
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