Space tourism will worsen climate change

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 15:25

London: A decade of commercial space flight would have a devastating impact on climate change and global temperatures.

Scientists believe that vast amounts of black soot created by a new generation of spacecraft could lead to temperatures in polar regions rising by as much as one degree Celsius.

Their simulations show that space flight would lead to polar surface temperatures by one degree Celsius, and a reduction in the polar sea ice by 5-15 percent, according to the journal Geophysical Research Letters1.

The study suggest that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches a year would travel high in the stratosphere, changing how ozone is circulated and produced, with dramatic consequences within just 10 years, reports the Daily Mail.

The study comes as the dream of whisking tourists edged closer to reality with the official opening of the runway at the world`s first commercial spaceport by Richard Branson.

The billionaire said he expects flights for space tourists to begin in nine to 18 months, and he will be among the first passengers.

Scientists found that black soot from commercial space flight will dramatically change global temperatures because of the particular fuel they use for sub-orbital flight.

Firms like Virgin Galactic plan on using a `hybrid` rocket engine that ignites synthetic hydrocarbon with nitrous oxide. These hybrid engines emit much more black carbon than conventional commercial engines.

And a layer of black carbon caused by commercial space flights caused the temperature to decrease about 0.4 degree Celsius in the tropics and subtropics.

Study author Martin Ross said: "There are fundamental limits to how much material human beings can put into orbit without having a significant impact."

IANS



First Published: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 - 15:25

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