Rocket launch causes stir

SAAO: Rocket launch causes stir locally and around the world

wish i could have seen that - definitely score one for rocket science. surely minus one for environmental science? what happens in a ‘fuel dump’? that can’t be good? how much fuel actually gets dumped? what kind? where? ???
and how many people who saw that (and didnt know what it was) thought that aliens were invading… haha :stuck_out_tongue:

The fuel for high-altitude rockets is usually oxygen and hydrogen kept in separate pressurised tanks. Burning hydrogen produces water, nothing else. In itself, dumping hydrogen and oxygen into the upper atmosphere is environmentally harmless, but even more so since the quantities are a minute fraction of, say, natural and industrial carbon dioxide emissions.


cool. i did not know that. just love learning something new every day ;D
ok so scratch greeny-concerns, and i shall reiterate: score one for rocket science!

Piecing together bits from the above-cited article and another, it emerges that the Atlas V rocket’s first stage carries around 285 metric tons of fuel (O2 + kerosene, most of which is used during launch), and the second stage around 15 tons (2.2 tons H2 + 12.8 tons O2). The amount of fuel dumped by the second stage would be at most a few hundred kilograms.


This is getting a bit confusing… Apparently (now I’m talking hearsay, so I distrust it anyway), they talked about this on 702 and they said the effect seen wasn’t due to a fuel dump (as the picture link speculates) which they (allegedly) said happened over Europe and the effect seen from SA was just the flashing of lights during some kind of test or demo.

Now I’m certainly not the world’s greatest physicist, but I don’t see how some pulsating lights could produce the concentric rings effect without having something to bounce off of, like jettisoned fuel. So I’m currently inclined to go with a “fuel/something else dump happened over SA, and the lights bounced off the expanding gas” theory. Thoughts? Confirmations? Any more concrete resources? :-\