National Academies Press: OpenBook

Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling (2021)

Chapter: 1 Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26142.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26142.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26142.
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Page 17

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Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling 4 1 Introduction The commercial space industry is a rapidly growing and evolving market [1]. Many new commercial space vehicles (Figure 3) have recently been developed or are currently under development. To support these new spacecraft, the number of licensed and proposed spaceports (Figure 4) continues to grow. These new vehicles and spaceports have opened access to missions such as crewed flights to the International Space Station, space tourism, and low-cost satellite deployment. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations [2] require new spaceports and launch vehicles to acquire licenses. The licensing process requires environmental review, which includes an assessment of the potential impacts of emissions to the environment and local communities [3]. The global environmental impacts of rocket emissions are currently small compared to other human activities, but these impacts are projected to increase with the continued growth of the commercial space transportation sector [4]. Launch and re-entry vehicles are unique as the only man-made sources that inject pollutants directly into every layer of the atmosphere. Figure 5 shows examples of the environmental impacts of rocket emissions in each atmospheric layer and the important pollutants that determine those impacts. Air quality and ozone destruction have received the most attention in the past, but climate change is receiving increasing attention from regulators and researchers. Research has shown that emissions of carbon dioxide in the troposphere and black carbon in the stratosphere may have significant climate change impacts. Emissions of water vapor at high altitudes may also contribute to climate change. Accurate estimates of rocket emissions are needed to assess these environmental impacts. Figure 3. Types of commercial space vehicles.

Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling 5 Figure 4. Active commercial, government, and private launch sites in the United States [5]. Figure 5. Examples of the environmental impacts of rocket emissions in each atmospheric layer and the important pollutants that determine those impacts.

Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling 6 Currently, no standardized procedures exist for estimating rocket emissions, and the availability of high-quality emissions data is extremely limited. Therefore, an emissions database and an implementation method are needed to allow practitioners to estimate the emissions from commercial space vehicles in a consistent manner. Since the FAA’s Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT) is the standard model for estimating the emissions from commercial aviation, the method should be compatible with AEDT. The objective of this research is to develop a method for estimating the emissions from commercial space vehicle operations, including launch, landing, and static fire events. The method should:  Allow users to estimate emissions for existing and emerging commercial space vehicles, engines, and propellants;  Allow users to estimate emissions both below and above the mixing height;  Be incorporated into a simple emissions estimator tool to allow for easy estimations; and  Be designed with the intent to be integrated with AEDT. The research activities and results of ACRP project 02-85 are summarized in this report, which is organized in the following sections:  Section 2 reviews literature sources relevant to commercial space vehicle emissions.  Section 3 describes the methodology for estimating commercial space vehicle emissions.  Section 4 provides estimates of the emissions indices for commercial space vehicles.  Section 5 summarizes the model validation results and future model validation plan.  Section 6 discusses the necessary software and user interface modifications to integrate the commercial space vehicle emissions model with AEDT.  Section 7 presents RUMBLE 3.0, the software tool that our team developed for modeling commercial space vehicle emissions.  Section 8 concludes the report and offers suggestions for future research. The primary products of this research are RUMBLE 3.0 and its accompanying user guide. RUMBLE 3.0 is the first software tool that enables practitioners to accurately model the emissions produced by commercial space vehicles. Together, these products and the research activities described in this report fulfill the objectives of ACRP project 02-85.

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Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require the licensing of spaceports and launch vehicles, which includes the assessment of environmental impacts.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program’s ACRP Web-Only Document 51: Commercial Space Vehicle Emissions Modeling presents a user-friendly tool for practitioners to estimate the emissions associated with commercial space vehicle activity.

Supplementary materials to the document include an Emissions Example Information & Users Guide, the RUMBLE application, and a RUMBLE User Guide.

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