Jeff Bezos’s space flight released a large amount of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.
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On July 20, Jeff Bezos launched his New Shepard launch vehicle into space for an 11-minute suborbital flight. In response, a claim that the launch released a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere went viral.
Misbar’s investigation concluded that while most rockets do emit large amounts of carbon, the Bezos Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket emitted virtually no carbon. According to Live Science, “Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket should be among the cleanest launch vehicles around.”
The rocket’s BE-3 engine uses a combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as a propellant. Referring to this fuel source, atmospheric scientist Darin Toohey told Live Science that "the main emissions will be water and some minor combustion products, and virtually no CO2."
While carbon emissions from the craft are virtually non-existent, the water vapors Bezos’s rocket emits could be problematic. According to a 2019 paper, water vapor emissions from rocket launches could negatively impact the mesosphere and ionosphere. Increased polar mesospheric cloud blooms and transient dropouts in electron content in ionospheric plumes have been observed after individual rocket launches.