You may not realize it but loud ear-splitting space rockets may be in Tri-Cities Washington residents’ near future.
Washington State Gives Port of Pasco Large Grant
The Port of Pasco has been awarded a large grant from the Washington Department of Commerce to be used for hydrogen-powered aircraft, private space exploration, and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The Port of Pasco, also known as the Tri-Cities Airport, located in Pasco is run by Airport Director Buck Taft. He recently said in an interview that they are still in the early planning stages saying “this is step one, this is a master plan. We’re on the paper stages.”
The Next Steps Before Construction
The Port of Pasco is now leading a study to investigate the impact of aerospace rockets on our community. The areas of study will be “environmental assessment of the ground they want to build on, followed by a preliminary grading plan, topography survey, geotechnical sampling, cultural and archaeological analysis, FAA airspace analysis, recommended rezoning, identification of the appropriate process for public engagement regarding the proposed aerospace complex and identification of land use restrictions” according to the interview.
How Loud Are Space Rocket Launches?
There are a lot of positives from the start of the aerospace industry here in Tri-Cities, but there could also be some large drawbacks. I have personally witnessed a rocket launching from Cape Canaveral in Florida and to this day it is the loudest thing I have ever heard. Rockets taking off like the ones that could launch from the proposed Tri-Cities location can reach decibels of 170-200 dB. The sound is also concentrated in low and mid ranges at frequencies that can cause damage to both “buildings and humans” according to a study by ASA.
Air Pollution and Rocket Launches
There is also some startling data about the amount and kinds of air pollution that is tied to space rocket launches. A study by Breeze Technologies showed that rocket launches average “generate between 50-75 tonnes of CO2 per passenger” and can stay in the atmosphere for 2 to 3 years. They show that rocket plumes contain “alumina (Al2O3), chlorine (converted from hydrochloric acid, HCl), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydroxyl (OH), and water vapor (H2O). They studied the area around Cape Canaveral and did find that there were “no exceedances of the NAAQS throughout the years at a primary NASA launch centre.” Meaning they did not find any severe pollution impact on air quality, but did state the data was incomplete and needed more study because it was based on ambient air pollution.
What Impact Could This Have on Our Tri-Cities Community?
I have been mentioning the negative impact in our area, but there are also a lot of good impacts the project could have as well. Obviously, there would be a large positive impact on the local economy and job creation. Port of Pasco Director of Economic Development and Marketing Stephen McFadden thinks there will be a large variety of jobs added to our area. He says in an interview he thinks you could see “engineering jobs, manufacturing jobs, most likely some research and development jobs.” The project will take at least 5 to 10 years to start seeing the building on the eventual site according to McFadden. That gives you time to look for a great pair of noise-canceling headphones before then.
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