View Full Version : Global warming, pollution, and rockets

2009-Feb-25, 01:58 AM
How much do rockets contribute to global warming, pollution?

2009-Feb-25, 02:31 AM
Well, it varies per type of rocket how much they pollute. LOX/LH2 Rockets don't pollute at all, since the product of combustion is just water. LOX/Kerosene rockets on the other hand burn the same fuel cars and planes use, and burn tens or hundreds of thousands of gallons of it in just a few minutes. APCP solid rockets will also pollute quite a bit, their exhaust is largely composed of hydrogen chloride, which forms hydrochloric acid. I don't think they produce greenhouse gases like Kerosene rockets though.

Rocket launches, however, are so few and far between that their impact is negligible when compared to the millions of cars on the roads, and factories churning out pollutants and whatnot.

2009-Feb-25, 04:52 AM
I agree, the amount of Greenhouses gases released by all the Rockets launched in Human history probably wouldn't equal even one day of emissions from Cars, Planes and Industries. It really is a minuscule amount in the grand scheme of things.

If you wanted to calculated the exact amount (or rather a very rough estimate), you'd have to know how many rocket launches there are a year and how many of them used C02 emitting fuels, and how much fuel on average each produced.

Other people around here could probably offer you better figures, but I've heard that there have been maybe 3,000 satellites put in orbit, and I'm sure there's been many other launches besides those, so let's say as a very, very rough estimate there's been ~5,000 rocket launches into space over the last 50 years. I don't know the average fuel mass of a rocket but, let's say its a few hundred tonnes, and let's further say that about half of all rockets have been the type that emits C02. I'd guess that total Carbon emissions from all rockets, might be anywhere from 100,000 to 1,000,000 tonnes. To give you some perspective on that, the world emits about 80 million tonnes of C02 every day.

My figures are just very rough guesses and I'm sure they'll be blown away if anybody has any real figures on this, but I think you can see what I'm getting at, rocket pollution is absolutely tiny, nothing to worry about.

2009-Feb-26, 12:57 AM
Is particulate aluminium from solid rocket boosters still an issue, wasn't it contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer?