Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The dire consequences that space tourism will have on the environment

Space tourism becomes a reality every day, but what consequences will it have for the environment?

 More aerospace events have taken place in recent weeks than in recent years.  It feels like we're looking into the past.  When the United States and the Soviet Union were in a fierce battle to become the first to successfully launch manned missions into space.  The difference is that this time it is made for space tourism and although the arrival of the first civilians in space was celebrated, we cannot deny that this scenario will have great consequences for the environment.

  The race for space tourism led by the decade's three most influential billionaires has just begun.  Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson have been preparing for your arrival in space for many years, although their desires are just crystallizing.  They have invested large sums of money to reach the ends of the earth, although they have not received training as astronauts.  In addition, they are offering seating so that the highest pitch reaches the thermosphere.  Just as science fiction predicted, humanity is one step away from manning rockets into space, but at the same time, these projects are causing irreparable damage to the planet.

 What is the environmental impact of space tourism?

  As we well know, anthropogenic activities are solely responsible for global warming.  Having a vehicle system based on fossil fuels, as well as the industries that use it, are the biggest problem for the environment.  So if you thought that traveling by plane or car left huge impacts of carbon dioxide on the environment, now imagine the fuel needed to launch a rocket into space.

 The energy needed to propel a rocket of about 500 tons is exorbitantly greater than that needed to power an ordinary car.  Unfortunately, jet propulsion is so far the only technology capable of taking us into space.  A rocket engine works by means of the thrust generated by the expulsion into the atmosphere of the gases exiting the combustion chamber.  Energy is obtained by burning fuel, which can be kerosene or liquid hydrogen.  In other words, the emission of toxic gases is part of every mission launched to cross the atmosphere.

 Tons of carbon dioxide in exchange for a trip

  On average, each rocket launch with 4 passengers on board emits 200 to 300 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  And that's just for a trip, but it's increasing.  Thanks to the space tourism race led by the triad Musk, Bezos and Branson, carbon emissions from rockets have increased by 5.6% a year.  Not surprisingly, the tycoons' promise to take civilians into space encourages more people every day to seek a place on the crews.  Which would mean a greater amount of carbon emissions caused by aerospace rockets.

 Space tourism is a relatively new term, so there are still no laws and regulations governing the levels of pollution emitted by rockets.  A situation that worries environmentalists, as the space tourism industry is expected to grow 17.5% per year, at least over the next 10 years.

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