The new issue of The Space Review begins with Jeff Foust discussion of the issue of rocket soot emissions and the effect on climate: Climate change and suborbital spaceflight. I’ve mentioned that the propulsion systems planned for other suborbital space tourism vehicles produce less soot than the SS2 hybrid. Here’s another difference in how the other vehicles would affect the climate model used in the paper,
> Another assumption of the model is the launch mode for such suborbital vehicles. The GRL paper assumed an air-launched system, like SpaceShipTwo, where all the emissions occur in the stratosphere. That is important in the model since soot deposited in the stratosphere has a much longer lifetime than in the troposphere. “Because the stratosphere is largely decoupled dynamically from the troposphere and emissions accumulate there, the concern is stratospheric emissions,” Ross said.
However, most other suborbital vehicle designs under active development—such as those by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, and XCOR Aerospace—are not air launched, but instead launch from the ground, meaning much of their emissions don’t take place in the stratosphere. “A good rule of thumb is that one third of a ground launched vehicle’s exhaust is deposited into the stratosphere,” Ross said.
Andrew J. LePage reviews the history of ground and space probe research into the mysteries of Saturn’s moon Titan: The mysteries of Titan.
Jeff Foust examines recent attempts to develop an Indian/US partnership in development of space based solar power: Space solar power’s Indian connection.