Eloise Marais
November 2022

Hazardous effects of a burgeoning space industry on the environment

The space sector is anticipated to grow rapidly, but the industry lacks environmental regulation to mitigate potential negative impacts on climate and the ozone layer that protects us from the Sun’s harmful rays.

This webinar discussed a 3D model that provides a comprehensive representation of the processes that occur in the atmosphere to determine the potential environmental harm of rocket launches and space debris on the atmosphere now and in a future with a formidable space tourism industry. The study found that the greatest influence is changes in climate due to soot particles from rocket launches and degradation of ozone from air pollutants produced during rocket launches and when spent satellites and rocket bodies burn-up in the atmosphere above us. It was identified that a space tourism industry of routine launches by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX has the potential to undermine progress achieved by the Montreal Protocol in restoring upper stratospheric ozone.