by Project Censored
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“Every time the space shuttle is launched, 250 tons of hydrochloric acid is released into the air. With each launch, .25% of the ozone is destroyed. So far, the space shuttle has de­stroyed 10% of the ozone.”

Dr. Helen Caldicott, world renown physician and environmentalist stuns audiences when she makes that statement in her talks across the country.

A brief article, in a small-circulation environmental publication, supports Dr. Caldicott’s charges.

Two Soviet rocket scientists have warned that the solid fuel rocket boosters used on the space shuttle release 187 tons of ozone destroying chlorine molecules into the atmosphere with every launch.

Valery Burdakov, co-designer of the Russian “Energiya” rocket engine, also noted that each shuttle launch produces seven tons of nitrogen (another ozone depleter), 387 tons of carbon dioxide (a major contributor to the “greenhouse effect”) and 177 tons of aluminum oxide (thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s Disease) before reaching an altitude of 31 miles. Burdakov also notes that the history of ozone depletion correlates closely with the in­crease of chlorine discharged by solid fuel rockets since 1981. Soviet rockets employ a fuel combination that is 2000 times less damaging than the shuttle’s but which still destroys 1500 tons of ozone per launch.

According to Burdakov and his colleague, Vyacheslav Filin, a single shuttle launch can destroy as much as 10 million tons of ozone. This means that some 300 shuttle flights could completely destroy the Earth’s protective ozone shield.

All other solid fuel rockets also contribute to ozone destruction. Near the top of the list are the U.S. Delta rocket (which destroys eight million tons per launch), the U.S. Titan, and the French Ariane V.

In an article published originally in South, Burdakov warned that, at present rates of increase, rockets will soon be pouring 100,000 tons of chlorine and nitrogen into the atmosphere annually. Burdakov has called for international controls and a phase out of solid fuel rocket technology as well as a ban on supersonic aircraft flights into the stratosphere.

The extraordinary charges by the Russian scientists were supported by research done by the Military Toxics Network, headquartered in San Francisco. Working with the Russian figures and data obtained from NASA, the Network concluded that significant damage was being done to the ozone layer by the space shuttle launches.


SOURCE: EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL, 300 Broadway, Suite 28, San Francisco, CA 94133, DATE: Fall 1990

TITLE: “Soviets Say Shuttles Rip Ozone Layer”

AUTHOR: Gar Smith

SOURCE: SSU STAR, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928, DATE: 5/8/90

TITLE: “Doc Caldicott Prescribes Medicine”

AUTHOR: Mindi Levine

SOURCE: SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 93103, DATE: 8/21/90

TITLE: “Group Says Space Shuttle Damages Earth’s Ozone”

AUTHOR: David Sylvester

COMMENTS: Gar Smith, editor of Earth Island Journal, said he was surprised by the limited coverage given to this story considering the variety of other problems with NASA’s space programs that were being reported during the same period. “It is worth noting that this story appeared in the European press over a year before I discovered a reference to it in the London­ based South Magazine.” Smith also said that he faxed a press release, citing this story among others, to daily newspapers, radio and television stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as to AP, UPI, Reuters, Time Magazine, etc., and there was no interest in the story. (However, he noted that another writer, Lenny Siegel, had been working on the story independently and had produced a 12-page report that was the basis for a story in the San Francisco Chronicle and an article in Mother Jones magazine.) Smith concludes “The story still has not penetrated the mainstream press. On December 6, (1990), the AP carried a story on NASA’s plans for ’27 Shuttle Flights Set for Next 3 Years’ that carried no mention of the environmental impacts of such flights for the integrity of the ozone layer.”