Pollution from rockets built by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic could harm human health and the Earth's climate.
"Atmospheric Pollution from Rockets," published in the journal Physics of Fluids, digitally simulated exhaust from a standard rocket, similar to one of SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rockets, at different altitudes.
The study says that the increase in rocket launches by commercial space companies could have a significant cumulative effect on the climate. It is noted that this is due to the large amount of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides produced by each launch.
The study found that the concentration of nitrogen oxides that a rising rocket releases into two cubic kilometers of atmospheric air is considered "hazardous to human health" by World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
“Atmospheric impacts will be a critical factor that needs to be carefully considered when planning future rocket launches,” study authors Ioannis Kokkinakis and Dimitris Drikakis wrote.
As the number of commercial rocket launches grows, they said, the subsequent atmospheric pollution must be taken into account.
A Blue Origin spokesperson told Insider that the New Shepard rocket is “fueled with highly efficient and pure liquid oxygen and hydrogen” and the only by-product is “carbon-free water vapor.”