Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 3:22 PM (ET) was a historic time; the first manned space mission launched from US soil since 2011. We are taking small steps (or giant leaps) from the moon landing and progressing towards a manned mission to Mars, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves yet. We are going to explore the impact space shuttle launches have on the planet and their significance to it. This calls for a bonus post!
If you’ve seen footage of a spacecraft launch before, you probably noticed the fuel exploding out of the rocket propelling it into space. That can’t be good for the environment, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Rocket fuel pollutes the environment, but because launches aren’t frequent, they do not make up a major amount of Earth’s carbon footprint. Other forms of travel such as flight cause more pollution overall.
Space shuttles require a lot of resources to create, so it is a waste if they can only be used once. More recent spaceships, including the Crew Dragon, have reusable parts. Instead of SpaceX and NASA rebuilding a new spaceship every time they launch one, they can reuse parts.
This lessens the environmental impact of space shuttles and works well into the three r’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. NASA and SpaceX reuse their parts, reducing the amount of new parts needed to manufacture. The less manufacturing required, the less energy required, resulting in a decrease in fossil fuels versus if they were one-time use.
The Importance of Space Travel
The mission of humanity is to survive and progress. In order to ensure our species' survival, we must be able to inhabit another planet or celestial body. If something catastrophic happens to Earth, we have a backup.
Sadly, a catastrophe is in the process. A mass extinction event has begun due to an increase in global temperatures and pollution from humans. We won’t have the technology to inhabit another planet in time.
Solving climate change is necessary for survival. Space travel will ensure the success of humanity, but we must start with Earth.
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