Global atmospheric response to emissions from a proposed reusable space launch system
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Global atmospheric response to emissions from a proposed reusable space launch system
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  • Source:
    Earths Future, 5(1), 37-48.
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  • Description:
    Modern reusable launch vehicle technology may allow high flight rate space transportation at low cost. Emissions associated with a hydrogen fueled reusable rocket system are modeled based on the launch requirements of developing a space-based solar power system that generates present-day global electric energy demand. Flight rates from 10(4) to 10(6)per year are simulated and sustained to a quasisteady state. For the assumed rocket engine, H2O and NOX are the primary emission products; this also includes NOX produced during reentry heating. For a base case of 10(5) flights per year, global stratospheric and mesospheric water vapor increase by approximately 10 and 100%, respectively. As a result, high-latitude cloudiness increases in the lower stratosphere and near the mesopause by as much as 20%. Increased water vapor also results in global effective radiative forcing of about 0.03W/m(2). NOX produced during reentry exceeds meteoritic production by more than an order of magnitude, and along with in situ stratospheric emissions, results in a 0.5% loss of the globally averaged ozone column, with column losses in the polar regions exceeding 2%.
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