UK-based satellite company Inmarsat has claimed that it achieved the world’s first carbon neutral rocket launch with the send-off of its I-6 F2 satellite into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9.
“We are offsetting roughly 5,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions associated with the launch,” said CEO Rajeev Suri. The CarbonNeutral Protocol certified the launch as a carbon neutral event.
London-based Inmarsat sent its I-6 F2 satellite into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 on February 17, lifting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Rajeev Suri said the rocket and spacecraft build emissions had been offset through carbon offsetting projects, including a biodiversity reserve in Indonesia, a gigawatt grid solar farm in Rwanda and community reforestation in Ghana. “We’re also funding several sustainable projects across the world, through renewables, reforestation and afforestation,” he said.
The impacts of rocket emissions on the climate are still relatively unknown due to the infrequency of launches. It is estimated that the space industry burns less than 1 per cent of the fossil fuels burned by the aviation industry, however unlike the aviation industry, rockets release pollutants all the way up to the mesosphere and stratosphere in the upper atmosphere, making it difficult to make comparisons between the two.