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Ecological Effects of Rocket Launch


Development of Methods and Instrumentation and Researches of the Environmental Rocket Launch Effects

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Rudneva V Ya

Leading Institute
Institute of Applied Geophysics (Fedorov), Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • IZMIRAN, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk


  • Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Germany, Katienburg-Lindau\nSwedish Institute of Space Physics, Sweden, Kiruna

Project summary

Project Objectives:
· Development of new methods and instrumentation and researches of local and large-scale environmental pollution and disturbances produced by rocket launches (RL).
· Estimation and prediction of environmental harmful consequences of RL effects.
· Applications of the project results and issues for environmental control in industry, agriculture, mining, as well as for investigations of environment RL effects in the national and international programs.
· Principles and scientific fundamentals of future space program environmental responsibility assessment and environmental RL effects standardisation.

Technical Approach

The environmental effects of RL have been raised during last decades following the rocketry development and mankind going in the near earth space (NES). The local environmental perturbations produced by RL are induced by complex impact of rocket exhausts and other effects of rocket flights, as well as specific features of environment along a rocket trajectory.

The environmental effects of RL are displayed mainly in:

· local pollution of a soil, air, water and plants around RL ranges and area of rocket stage drops by fuel components and by combustion products (CP) of rocket engines;
· local changes of gas and aerosol composition and the ozone content in the stratosphere;
· formation large-scale artificial gas-dust clouds in the upper atmosphere;
· local modification of the ionosphere along the rocket trajectory;
· generation of large-scale gas dynamic perturbations in the upper atmosphere and plasma disturbances in NES;
· artificial stimulation of trigger processes in NES;
· contamination of NES by solid particles of CP.

The environmental RL effects can be of impact (short, local and intensive) or trend (accumulating effects of multiple RL) mode. Significant uncertainties about RL environmental perturbations need to be clarified for future space programs. The scientific significance as well as important applications of RL environmental effects and evident insufficiency of our knowledge about these effects is the very weighty reason for complex researches and monitoring of environmental responses to RL. The researches need to be initiated by development of methods and equipment for observations of environmental RL effects. In the framework of the project environmental RL effects associated with RL will be investigated experimentally and estimated for assessment of potentially harmful consequences of RL effects.

The project experimental program includes measurements of pollution of atmospheric air, soil, and water near RL ranges and area of rocket stages drop. The stratosphere modification and ozone changes produced by RL will be determined by multipositional optical complex. For observations of artificial gas-particles clouds caused by RL in the upper atmosphere the optical complexes, including TV cameras with intensifiers and high sensitivity spectrographs will be used. The ionosphere artificial disturbances following rocket flights will be investigated by stationary ionosondes, which will give information on distant perturbations. The ionosphere disturbances will be observed by multifrequent Doppler complexes and receivers of GPS and GLONASS radiosignals.

The theoretical researches will be stressed on estimation of temporal and spatial, optical, radiophysical and other parameters of environmental RL effects including:

· parameters of soil and air pollution by fuel components and CP of rocket engines;
· parameters of transfer and sedimentation of CP in the atmosphere with taking into account the local meteorological conditions and ground surface features;
· temporal and spatial parameters and optical properties of gas-dust clouds produced in the stratosphere by rocket exhausts as well as ozone reduction in the disturbed ozone layer;
· characteristics of artificial formations caused by rocket flights in the mesosphere and their effects upon the lower ionosphere and on transfer of UV sunlight;
· investigation of the structure, dynamics and physical parameters of the disturbed upper atmosphere and the ionosphere.

The theoretical consideration results with the experimental data will be applied for estimations of environmental trend changes induced with multiple RL in future space programmes.

Anticipated results:

1. modified and new methods and instrumentation for direct measurements and remote sensing of environmental RL disturbances;
2. the new data on environment pollution obtained by the 3D-reconstruction methods;
3. model estimations of environmental RL effects and their potentially harmful consequences;
4. the principals and scientific fundamentals of environmental RL effect standardization and environment responsibility of future space programs;
5. the proposals for international projects and programmes to monitor RL impact and trend effects for prediction of environment damage;
6. the recommendations for the project applications in industry, agriculture, mining, environmental researches and control.

Potential Role of Foreign Collaborators

· Objective evaluation of the project and proposal on paramount directions of developments of instrumentation and researches of environmental RL effects.
· Comparison of collaborator research results with the project data to enhance efficiency of environmental RL effect researches in fundamental and applications areas.
· Performance of joint developments and researches within the framework of the co-ordinated programs for effective use of management and financial potential of the participants and extension of instrumentation base for experimental investigation of RL impact on environment.
· Recommendations for applications of the project results in various countries.


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