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Scientists are concerned about the impact of space travel on climate

Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos’ recent flight into space has ignited scientific concerns about the long-term effects of commercial space travel on the Earth’s atmosphere and climate.

After years of waiting, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson climbed 80km to reach the edge of space on the VSS Unity Spaceplane on July 11.

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did the same with Blue Origin Craft, reaching high altitudes (about 120 km) a few days later.

While these milestones are more than just technical achievements, scientists are concerned that increased rocket flight numbers could harm the Earth’s atmosphere in the long run. Specifically, it is the ozone layer of the upper atmosphere.

In the romantic name SpaceShipTwo (the vehicle used by Branson), the flight is powered by a hybrid engine that burns rubber and leaves a cloud of soot.

“Hybrid engines can use different types of fuels, but they always produce large amounts of soot,” said Philippo Maggie, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy. Space.com..

“These engines act like candles, and their combustion process creates the right conditions for soot generation.”

According to a 2010 survey, soot released in 1,000 space trips could warm Antarctica by nearly 1 degree Celsius.

Virgin Galactic says it aims to launch 400 commercial space flights a year.

So far, the impact of rocket launches on the atmosphere is not important due to the limited number of launches worldwide, said Martin Ross, an atmospheric scientist at Aerospace Corporation.

“The amount of fuel currently burned by the space industry is less than one percent of the fuel burned by aviation,” Ross said.

“So there wasn’t much research, and it makes sense, but things are changing in a way that suggests that we should learn more about this.”

Eloise Maris, an associate professor of physical geography at the University College London, said that all space flights carrying four passengers had about 300 tons of CO2, compared to a maximum of 3 tons per long-distance passenger. In other words, we calculated that it would be 75 tons per person. Civil airmail.

“”[Commercial space travel] You don’t have to grow that much to compete with other sources [of carbon]”Mr. Male said Parents..

Virgin Galactic said last week that carbon dioxide emissions during space flight are about the same as business class tickets from New York to London.

The company said AFP Various measures have been taken to offset carbon emissions from the test flight. He also claims that he is looking for opportunities to offset carbon emissions from future commercial flights.

Jeff Bezos claims that Blue Origin aircraft use liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel, which causes less damage to the environment.

However, experts believe that these flights can still have a significant impact on the atmosphere.

In 2019, Amazon announced a series of measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The company promises to use only energy from renewable sources by 2030, targets 80% renewable energy by 2024, and is carbon-neutral by 2040. did.

We also promised to invest $ 100 million in the restoration and conservation of forests, wetlands and flark in collaboration with the environmental charity The Nature Conservancy.

Scientists are concerned about the impact of space travel on climate

Source link Scientists are concerned about the impact of space travel on climate

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