Projected Increase in Space Travel May Damage Ozone Layer

New Shepard (NS-14) lifts off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. (Credits: Blue Origin)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — Projected growth in rocket launches for space tourism, moon landings, and perhaps travel to Mars has many dreaming of a new era of space exploration. But a NOAA study suggests that a significant boost in spaceflight activity may damage the protective ozone layer on the one planet where we live. 

Kerosene-burning rocket engines widely used by the global launch industry emit exhaust containing black carbon, or soot, directly into the stratosphere, where a layer of ozone protects all living things on the Earth from the harmful impacts of ultraviolet radiation, which include skin cancer and weakened immune systems in humans, as well as disruptions to agriculture and ecosystems.

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