Nasa Safety Standards were discovered when Scientists were concerned that an increase in rocket launches and the popularity of space travel could affect the atmosphere of Earth and hasten the process of climate change. There are occasional catastrophic mishaps in the sector, such as the Virgin Galactic flight test in 2014 that claimed the life of co-pilot Mike Alsbury. A space trip involves many extremely risky components, with the rocket launch and re-entering Earth’s atmosphere during the descent being the two most perilous. These flights in SpaceShipTwo, operated by Branson’s Virgin Galactic, are propelled by a hybrid engine that burns rubber and emits a sooty cloud. Of course, Virgin Galactic’s rockets aren’t the only ones at fault.
According to Maggi, soot is produced by all hydrocarbon-burning rocket motors. The atmosphere is harmed by the burning of metallic compounds and the emission of aluminum oxide particles and hydrochloric acid from solid rocket engines, such as those once employed in the NASA space shuttle’s boosters.
On the other side, the BE-3 engine that drives Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital rocket generates thrust by mixing liquid oxygen and hydrogen. Comparatively speaking to other rocket engines, the BE-3 emits primarily water along with a few minor combustion products, according to specialists. While talking about the likelihood of frequent manned space travel, it’s also important to address the safety issues associated with staying in space for extended periods. To name a few, gravity can weaken bones and muscles, isolation can result in mental health problems, and space radiation can bring fatal sickness and behavioral disorders. Concerns concerning granting permits for launches and safeguarding other aerial vehicles are also present.
Although space regulation is not yet a major issue, it is crucial to prevent rockets from colliding with aircraft, drones, or helicopters and resulting in catastrophic casualties or damage.
The environmental cost to the planet
It’s finally time to talk about the significant environmental cost of space travel. For good reason, this is one of the main worries people have about the possibility of frequent, commercial space travel. Some of the most pressing environmental issues are covered below.
Large carbon footprint
According to UCL professor of physical geography Eloise Marais, taking a long-haul aircraft has a carbon footprint that is around 100 times greater than using a rocket to travel into space. This is partially due to the minimal number of passengers that spacecraft can hold.
Depleting ozone layer
Space travel can harm the ozone layer in several different ways. Rockets release up to ten times more nitrogen oxides than the largest thermal power station in the UK, while CO2 emissions and soot trap heat in the atmosphere. On average, passengers produce 50 to 100 times higher CO2 emissions than a passenger on a lengthy journey.
In essence, a reduced ozone layer makes it easier for greenhouse gases to warm the Earth, which contributes to global warming. You can read our blog post on greenhouse gases to have a better understanding of this process, and our climate change guide to thinking about the outcome.
The soot cloud that rockets produce is one of the main environmental issues with space tourism. Between 5 and 31 miles above Earth, in the stratosphere, soot can gather because the weather cannot wash it away. Black carbon can stay in the stratosphere for a long time as a result, and scientists are yet unsure of what the long-term ramifications of this could be. You are producing pollutants in areas where you wouldn’t ordinarily transmit them, according to Karen Rosenlof, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States. We must comprehend immediately. What might happen if we increase these things?
Now that we are aware of the environmental harm caused by space rockets, let’s look at the safety standards NASA has implemented to stop these harms.
NASA Safety Standards: Planetary Protection
The act of shielding planets against contamination by Earth life and from potential life forms that could return to Earth from other solar system bodies is known as planetary protection. By implementing and creating initiatives that preserve the research, investigated habitats, and Earth, NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection (NASA Safety Standards) encourages the responsible exploration of the solar system. A safe and verifiable scientific search for extraterrestrial life is made possible by NASA Safety Standards of planetary Protection principles and criteria.
To ensure the integrity of the search for and study of alien life, if it exists, the key goals are;
- To carefully prevent forward contamination of other worlds by terrestrial creatures and organic materials carried by spacecraft.
- Prevent possible negative effects on people and the Earth’s ecosystem by rigorously excluding backward contamination of Earth by extraterrestrial life or bioactive compounds in returning samples from inhabited worlds.
The Office of Planetary Protection (NASA Safety Standards) supports the creation of sterile (or low biological burden) spacecraft, the creation of flight plans that safeguard planetary bodies of interest, the creation of plans to safeguard the Earth from returned extraterrestrial samples, and the formulation and implementation of space policy as it relates to Planetary Protection to achieve these goals.
To ensure adherence to NASA policies and international agreements, Planetary Protection collaborates with solar system mission planners. Planetary Protection’s ultimate goal is to aid in the scientific investigation of chemical development and the beginnings of life in the solar system.
It is crucial to provide effective rules, both at the agency and international levels, to preserve the Earth and other bodies from pollution while NASA, industry, and the globe actively work to return to the Moon and explore farther than ever before.
NASA Safety Standards- Planetary Protection Officer, James Nick Benardini says:
“In the short term, we have a lot of streamlining to accomplish for the Space Operation Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems,” says James Nick Benardini, NASA’s Planetary Protection Officer of NASA Safety Standards. Streamline documentation and reporting needs, strengthen policies, and develop the Mission Directorate side of the business.
Making sure the Mars Sample Return campaign gets off to a solid start by passing design reviews and coming to an agreement with the requirements for planetary protection and the implementation of those requirements that satisfies stakeholder expectations is another short-term goal.
The demands of programs and initiatives are at the forefront of these policies because they are the most immediate stakeholders
According to Benardini, “Our new standards and NPR [NASA Procedural Requirements] objectives that we’re working towards our very much process and project enabling.”We realize that there isn’t always a one-size-fits-all answer, and we’re working hard to build an environment where we encourage openness and transparency with initiatives to work together toward a simplified solution. There is a change. In the end, we want to enable missions and contribute to the agency’s success in the sciences. We are here to help missions create value, just like other disciplines would.
The fact that the field of planetary protection is continually changing based on knowledge and risk-informed decision-making presents one of the major obstacles for both policy and execution. Benardini and his team will need to collaborate with partners, whether they are programs, initiatives, or international organizations, to negotiate the changes and make sure that mission requirements are balanced with proper implementation.
While the Planetary Protection program will need to work to fill the technological gaps as the agency takes on unprecedented missions, NASA’s programs and projects (NASA Safety Standards) will need to master these new ways of doing business regarding Planetary Protection standards. The Planetary Protection program will work with other programs and projects on this as well.
There are numerous technological holes that must be filled, at least from a crewed perspective, according to Benardini. We still have a long way to go before we can put humans on Mars since we’ve never done it before and there is no precedence for it. To handle the knowledge gaps, we will require ongoing assistance from management, engineering, and, of course, financial sources. When the rubber meets the road, it’s time to finish what we started and to do so, we need the backing of the entire agency.
Over the past ten years, we’ve worked very hard to pinpoint these gaps, host workshops to better comprehend and project the knowledge gaps, develop an agency-wide roadmap to address these Planetary Protection technology gaps within the conventional mission planning cycles, and start to close these gaps.
Benardini has faith that his group and the larger NASA community will effectively close such gaps.