Broadcast 1158 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

18 May 2009 Dr. Martin Ross
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Guest: Dr. Martin Ross. Topics: Space launch market and stratospheric ozone depletion, Montreal Protocol, geoengineering. Dr. Martin Ross, lead author and researching for the Astropolitics Journal reviewed article, "Limits on the Space Launch Market Related to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion" was our guest for this Space Show program. If you would like a copy of this paper, please email me and I will send it to you as a .pdf document. Dr. Ross introduced us to the potential issue of rockets directly depositing exhaust material in the stratosphere and the consequences of doing so. A major thesis of this reviewed paper is that the space launch market needs to acknowledge that there is likely a limit to the amount of material that rockets can deposit into he stratosphere over time. As the space industry continues to develop, as launch prices drop, and as more commercial and civil launches take place, there may come a time when the industry faces strict regulations because of this deposited stratospheric material. As he pointed out during the show and throughout this paper, we are not yet at that point and the information available on rocket exhaust deposits in the stratosphere is lacking. Much more data is needed. More information exists on solid propellants and we can see the problem though the data is still incomplete for policy and regulatory action. Not nearly as much data exists for liquids and I'm sure you too will find it interesting in that scientists have yet to fly research planes through the exhaust trails of a liquid rocket. When he was asked about the hybrid propellant being used for the suborbital tourism market, he said no data was available on what it does or does not do in terms of deposits to the stratosphere. The Montreal Protocol was discussed in detail as this treaty controls earth based pollutants that make it to the stratosphere. I told a personal story of how this impacted my family with MDH usage and how we were blind sided on the RX requirements that came out quickly as a result of the Protocol. But as Dr. Ross pointed out, the Montreal Protocol does not yet regulate material directly deposited to the stratosphere so for the time being, rocket emissions are not regulated. This prompted a listener question about environmental impact reports and could this type of issue show up in the EIR needed to get a launch license. You will want to hear what Dr. Ross has to say about the EIR and its coverage of this particular issue. Another issue several listeners and I brought up had to do with using alternative propellants to avoid the problem. As you will hear, its not so simple to avoid the problem with an alternative propellant, especially if the root of the problem is not well understood or even identified.Contrary to many public reports about this paper, Dr. Ross and his fellow authors are not calling for a regulated launch market. They are pointing out the issues as of today, the status of the known research, and where additional research is needed. Toward the end of the program, Dr. Ross mentioned that without this needed information and stability in the policy and regulatory areas, it would be unlikely that there would be a large amount of launches to support the SSP industry for example. At the end of the program, he also pointed out the lack of data regarding hypersonic stratospheric emissions and this might lead to problems with hypersonic development. He concluded the show saying we should not fear knowledge. We should instead fear the lack of knowledge and bogus science. Over and over during this interview, Dr. Ross made the point that the business and investment world does not like uncertainty and one of the worst types of uncertainties facing the business world in the space launch industry is the likelihood of unknown government regulation, policy making, or interference. By understanding what happens with rockets propellant stratospheric deposits, the industry will be in a strong position to fight back against unwarranted regulations and policy and investors will be in the much stronger position of having stability with known and quantifiable risks rather than unknown risks stemming from the public sector. I believe this to be an important Space Show program and urge you to listen to it and pass it on to others. I also want to call your attention to a May 19, 2009 article on this subject, the work of Dr. Ross and his authors, plus other important issues by Leonard David in Check it out at If you have comments or questions for Dr. Ross, first read his paper and as I said, I will send it to you upon your email request. You can email Dr. Martin Ross at



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