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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The space shuttle's impact on the stratosphere

  • Author(s): Prather, Michael J
  • Garcia, M M
  • Douglass, Anne R
  • Jackman, Charles H
  • Ko, Malcolm K. W
  • Sze, Nien Dak
  • et al.

Launch of spacecraft using solid rocket motors leads to release of gaseous and particulate matter in the stratosphere. Concern over these emissions, particularly chlorine, goes back to the Climatic Impact Assessment Program (Hoshizaki, 1975). The buildup of these exhaust products and their perturbation to stratospheric ozone is followed with two- and three-dimensional atmospheric chemical transport models. Chlorine enhancements due to the current rate of shuttle launches is small, on average less than 0.6% above the current background. Other gases emitted from the solid rockets appear to have even smaller global effects, although the impact of particulate alumina remains uncertain.

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