With the quick expansion of space technology, commercial splaceflight is a venture the world is very much committed to. However, unsurprising to most, the massive increase in space travel will come at a cost to our planet’s wellbeing.
Rocket fuel of destruction?
Research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) states that increased spaceflight could change things about Earth massively. According to the results, this increase in spaceflights might raise Earth’s temperature, change global air currents, and dampen the ozone layer.
The study indicated that Earth’s stratosphere will get warmer by four degrees if we increase the number of spaceflights over the next few decades. With companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin set to introduce commercial spaceflights, this could be a huge issue.
NOAA’s study says the amount of black carbon from the rocket fuel of continued spaceflights due to the hydrocarbons used, which the industry has been trying to reduce. Apparently, black carbon attracts and holds heat, with enough of it making the Earth’s stratosphere warmer over time.
Part of NOAA’s study includes using today’s baseline for carbon pollution, which is 1,000 tons of rocket soot per year, and multiplying that figure by 10 due to the number of spaceflight plans announced. That might seem like an overreaction but given how people like Elon Musk want to send a lot of people to space, it might not be too assuming.
What can Earth do?
Realistically, it would be better if countries decided to delay some of their spaceflights by a few months or years. Granted, we can’t stop billionaires when they’re excited to go to Mars but it won’t hurt to suggest this to them.
Many are also hoping for some kind of alternative to rocket fuel, though Popular Mechanics does state that there are alternatives in the works. Hopefully, companies will invest in them so that we can witness space travel without feeling too guilty about it. We could also try to make the Earth a more liveable place but governments seem to be too stubborn for that.