On a cool Florida evening in February, with several alligators floating nearby, a rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, sending a satellite into space. It was the second SpaceX rocket to launch that day – one of around 100 that the company will launch in 2023 – and would have been entirely unremarkable if not for the thousands of trees that had been planted prior to lift off.
These trees, and other carbon offsetting initiatives, made the Inmarsat-6 F2 mission the world’s first “carbon neutral rocket launch”. It marked a major milestone for a notoriously polluting industry, however a number of startups are now attempting to go even further by developing launch systems that negate the need for fossil fuels altogether.
Concepts include catapults, magnets, guns and even space elevators, which could deliver payloads into space using electricity alone.
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