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Emissions from rocket launches could affect Earth’s weather systems

An increasing number of space launches will put more black carbon into the atmosphere, where it can trap heat from the sun.

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June 15, 2022

Launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket 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 oxidizer (liquid oxygen) to generate 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 byproduct of this process is black carbon, soot-like grains that are thrown into the…

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