Space tourism and climate change

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Post Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:55 am

Space tourism and climate change

Uh-oh, this looks worrying....

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101022/ ... 0.558.html

Here is the opening of this quite long article:

Climate change caused by black carbon, also known as soot, emitted during a decade of commercial space flight would be comparable to that from current global aviation, researchers estimate.

The findings, reported in a paper in press in Geophysical Research Letters1, suggest that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches a year would persist high in the stratosphere, potentially altering global atmospheric circulation and distributions of ozone. The simulations show that the changes to Earth's climate could increase polar surface temperatures by 1 °C, and reduce polar sea ice by 5–15%.


Private space flight is a rapidly maturing industry. Spaceport America, a launch site in Las Cruces, New Mexico, opened its first runway on 22 October. During the next three years, companies such as Virgin Galactic, headquartered at Spaceport America, expect to make up to two launches per day for space tourists. Meanwhile, the NASA Authorization Act passed by US Congress in September provides US$1.6 billion in private space-flight investments to develop vehicles to take astronauts and cargo into orbit.

“There are fundamental limits to how much material human beings can put into orbit without having a significant impact.”

Commercial rockets burn a mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen. But several private space-flight companies, such as Virgin Galactic, may soon use a more economical 'hybrid' rocket engine that ignites synthetic hydrocarbon with nitrous oxide, says Ross. These hybrid engines emit more black carbon than a kerosene and oxygen engine, he adds.

"Rain and weather wash out these particles from the atmosphere near Earth's surface, but in the stratosphere there isn't any rain and they can remain for 3 to 10 years," says Michael Mills, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and another author of the paper.

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Post Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:08 am

Re: Space tourism and climate change

Yeah that's going to be a preeety major issue, especially if we stick with using rockets to send up equipment.
Although until a space elevator is constructed (which as we've discovered, would be a very problematic endeavour), how else can we get up people?
Actually as I type this I remember something a friend linked me to...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_loop

But I imagine there's a few more ways to get up equipment than people with less exhaust...

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Post Mon Oct 25, 2010 8:10 am

Re: Space tourism and climate change

Not to say the launch loop wouldn't also present problems. Another post though.

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Post Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:30 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

Intranaut wrote:Yeah that's going to be a preeety major issue, especially if we stick with using rockets to send up equipment.
Although until a space elevator is constructed (which as we've discovered, would be a very problematic endeavour), how else can we get up people?
Actually as I type this I remember something a friend linked me to...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_loop

But I imagine there's a few more ways to get up equipment than people with less exhaust...

Nuclear pulse drive. Although concerns about radiation would probably make it preferrable to construct a nuclear pulse driven spacecraft in orbit and initiate the detonations there.

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Post Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:40 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

RickLewis wrote:Uh-oh, this looks worrying....

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101022/ ... 0.558.html


I suppose it was inevitable that someone bitched about it. I guess its a valid concern. I personally favor LOX/H2 liquid motors and aluminum/water-ice solids. Reasonably cheap if you make them reusable and I can't see how the environmentalists can complain about them "polluting" the upper atmosphere with water.

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Post Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:46 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

I read an article yesterday about companies trying to develop more green rocket fuels. Currently, I believe, hydrazine is a common fuel for satellites, but this here is one of the first 'alternative space fuels':

High Performance Green Propulsion (HPGP) is a rocket propellant developed by the Swedish aerospace company ECAPS as a safer alternative to hydrazine.[1] HPGP is based on ammonium dinitramide mixed with ammonia and methanol. Its specific impulse is around 235 seconds. The Prisma mission serves as a demonstrator mission for HPGP.[2]

And as for the nuclear propulsion, I love the idea if you're talking about building it in space and away from the earth, but you would have to get the building equipment and supplies into orbit first which would, at least for now, rely on standard rocket fuels that often use kerosene. Unless you build in orbit around the moon with materials from the moon...just a suggestion. :)

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Post Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:51 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

Nuclear thermal engines would be safe and completely non polluting for atmospheric use, assuming you could guarantee that one never blew up or crashed, which is the primary reason why it will never be used.

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Post Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:13 am

Re: Space tourism and climate change

*Never be used in the atmosphere.

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Post Mon Nov 01, 2010 4:03 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

A Probe would better than the two, a Rocket and a Space Elevator. 8-)

Why the need for carrying extra load by in addition burning out tonnes of fuel then having litter those used propellants on land, just to discharge a capsule which that too being small in scale? :shock:

Also why rush constructing a Linear Lift before developing the laser-transport by researching the required technologies to achieve it? :|

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Post Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:48 pm

Re: Space tourism and climate change

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a probe. Sorry, please elaborate :D
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