Friday, October 20, 2017

Inuit Leaders Ignored as ESA Satellite Launched Over the Arctic

          By Chuck Black

The European Space Agency (ESA) ignored Inuit concerns by launching a hydrazine loaded rocket last week, using a second stage which fell to Earth in the waters between Nunavut and Greenland after launch with up to a tonne of its unburned toxic fuel still onboard.

The Sentinal 5P being launched on a Russian rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia on October 13th, 2017. As outlined in the October 15th, 2017 Spaceflight Now post, "ESA details construction of Sentinel-5P satellite and Tropomi instrument," the satellite carried the Dutch/ UK built TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (Tropomi), a spectrometer that measures ultraviolet, visible, near visible, and short-wavelength infrared to monitor trace gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Photo c/o ESA.

As outlined in the October 13th, 2017 APTN News post, "European Space Agency ignores Inuit concerns, launches hydrazine loaded rocket," the Sentinel 5P satellite was launched from a site in northern Russia on October 13th, 2017.

We condemn Russia’s actions and demand that this launch be halted,” said Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna. “Our people rely on the marine ecosystem to support our families, communities, and livelihoods.” The Inuit Circumpolar Conference, an organization that represents Inuit around the world, also protested the satellite launch.

The Canadian Federal government in Ottawa also protested the launch as did Kuupik Kleist, the former Prime Minister of Greenland. According to the article:
Hydrazine is so toxic that almost every space program in the world, including Russia’s, has moved away from it. 
That area falls within Canada’s exclusive economic zone and is within the jurisdiction of the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act.
The second stage of the rocket, containing up to a tonne of unburned hydrazine, splashed down in water between Greenland and Baffin Island.

According to the March 2017 Cambridge University Press paper, "Toxic splash: Russian rocket stages dropped in Arctic waters raise health, environmental and legal concerns," at least 10 similar launches have discarded rocket stages in Pikialasorsuaq or in the Barents Sea, off the northern coasts of Norway and Russia, since 2002.

As outlined in the October 13th, 2017 Russia Space Web post, "Rockot delivers Sentinel-5P," the Rockot launch vehicle used for the mission is a re-purposed Soviet era ballistic missile.

More modern launchers, typically don't use hydrazine or other hypergolic and highly carcinogenic fuels to power their rocket launchers.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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