Current spaceports will not be sufficient to handle projected demand from a range of existing and new commercial space operators. The siting and construction of new spaceports will not only have ramifications for integrating space launches with the National Airspace System, but also potential environmental (e.g., emissions from rocket launches) and human impacts (e.g., noise and engineering nuisance) on proximate populations within the geographies that are chosen to host a new launch site or spaceport. Furthermore, these impacts may not be equitable across populations. This exploratory project will direct student researchers to build on facility location and nuisance facility location problems — formulated for launch operator objectives and constraints (e.g., equatorial proximity, distance from residential areas, azimuth launch angle availability, etc.) — by incorporating relevant environmental and community-centric impact factors. The project will investigate the environmental impact factors related to different rocket propellants, exploring the combustion products from distinct rocket engines and vehicles, in order to assess their implications on air quality, climate change, and ecosystem health. It will also investigate the community impact factors related to emissions, health, noise, and displacement. Recognizing that certain impact measures may not be justifiably quantifiable, this project will also explore how the advantages and limitations of such a quantitative decision-making model can be explained to students and broader community stakeholders. Furthermore, this project will investigate how this model can empower students and broader community stakeholders to understand the sociotechnical nature of engineering projects — in which the technology and social aspects of design cannot be untangled.
Funding: $60K (2023)
Goal: The project goal is (1.) to expand the environmental, emissions, and community impact considerations of a quantitative facility location planning model for spaceport siting, (2.) to examine preliminary ways such models can be presented in educational and outreach contexts, and (3.) expand on (1.) and particularly (2.) in potential future follow-on funding opportunities.
Token Investors: Max Li, Oliver Jia-Richards, Aaron Johnson, and Gökçin Çinar
Project ID: 1118