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Posted Tue Oct 26 2010: from Popular Science:
Detailed Simulation of Space Tourism Finds It Could Accelerate Climate Change
Last week we celebrated the dedication of Spaceport America, New Mexico's dedicated private spaceflight hub that hopes to begin launching regular flights to the edge of space sometime next year. This week we hear the other side of the story: space tourism's emissions of black carbon in the upper atmosphere could have dire consequences for climate change, increasing polar temperatures by 1.8 degrees and reducing polar sea ice by 5-15 percent. A paper publishing in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that emissions from 1,000 private rocket launches each year would dump detrimental amounts of black carbon - the really bad kind - into the stratosphere where it could remain for up to a decade, altering global atmospheric conditions and the distribution of ozone. And because there's no weather up there to scrub the carbon away as it does commercial airline emissions, that black carbon could hang around for a while.... The models showed that all those firing rockets - 1,000 over the course of a year - would leave behind some 660 tons of black carbon annually, comparable to the emissions of the entire global aviation industry.
[Read more stories about: unintended consequences, global warming, carbon emissions]

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'Doc Jim says:
I know! We'll just have every rocket drop off a floating solar-powered black-carbon vacuum!

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