Emissions from rocket launches could affect Earth’s weather systems

Increasing numbers of space launches will put more black carbon high in the atmosphere, where it can trap heat from the sun

Earth 15 June 2022

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SpaceX/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock (10664346i) A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard. NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX Demo-2 Historic Manned Launch, Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. - 30 May 2020

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, Florida

SpaceX/ZUMA Wire/Shutterstock

As more and more rockets are launched into space, the pollution they emit could have a growing effect on Earth’s atmosphere and weather systems.

Many rockets today use kerosene, which is burned with an oxidiser – liquid oxygen – to produce thrust. This includes SpaceX’s Falcon 9, currently the most frequently launched rocket in the world, responsible for 31 of the 135 successful launches globally in 2021.

A by-product of this process is black carbon, soot-like grains thrown out in the …

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