Concerns about environmental impact are addressed by spaceports

According to Melissa Thorpe, Spaceport Cornwall’s director, the company is getting ready to release a carbon impact study as part of its drive to be “open and upfront” about the environmental effect of horizontal launches set to begin next year. “It’s not only about balancing and reducing. It’s about actually leveraging technology to reduce that impact so that all of the spacecraft in space can accomplish this wonderful work while also going into space in a more responsible manner.”

Spaceport Cornwall is attempting to combine launch operations with the local airport’s ongoing passenger operations, search - and - rescue, and air ambulance, with the support of the UK Space Agency and Cornwall Council. Virgin Orbit wants to launch its LauncherOne rocket into space next summer, using a modified Boeing 747 that will take off from Newquay Airport in Cornwall.

Environmental groups initially opposed the spaceport’s plans in southwestern England, believing it “wasn’t the appropriate match for Cornwall,” Thorpe stated November 8 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ ASCEND 2021 virtual conference. Concerns were addressed by emphasizing environmental stewardship and enhancing communication with local community at Spaceport Cornwall.

Thorpe added, “We’ve undertaken a lot of effort conveying why space is vital.” “At the very same time, we as the sector must improve our launch capabilities, as well as our roles and obligations as a spaceport and gateway to space.” Environmental concerns have also been raised about Australian spaceports.

“We’re looking at methods to reduce any challenges there,” says Rebecca Shrimpton, head of Austrade’s Defence, Space and Infrastructure Sector. The environmental approval procedure is a basic challenge for spaceports, according to Austrade. As a result, the agency collaborates with local indigenous peoples, territorial and local government councils, and sectors to promote environmental conservation and stewardship.

“This is likely to be a major problem,” Shrimpton predicted. “It’s not just about saving the environment during the launch process; it’s also about discovering greener launch methods.” How can we launch with a lower environmental impact in terms of vehicles, fuels, and processes?”

Environmental challenges and solutions are being addressed by spaceports working collaboratively. The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States, which has authorized 12 spaceports, is pleased to cooperate with countries that are drafting space-related legislation and regulations.

“Talk to your allies,” Pam Underwood, director of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation spaceports office, advised any country. “Think about consulting with the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia. We must be able to collaborate in order to achieve industry interoperability. I look forward to working with other international space agencies and nations in the future.”

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