What exactly is stopping us from sending a rocket into space with our plastic waste?

1.15K views

[ad_1]

I get that you could not possibly get rid of all of it, but wouldn’t it make sense to send a trash rocket into the abyss?

In: Engineering
[ad_2]

The amount of plastics is so great and the amount that rockets can carry is so low that it would be like trying to drain an Olympic pool 1 teaspoon at a time and each teaspoon cost $100M

We could do a lot more good with it on Earth than to build a rocket to send just a little bit into space. The big problem is collecting it and we’d have to do that anyway. Then rocket launches are expensive and not environmentally friendly either. Overall, it’s a bad idea.

We’d be better off burning the plastic for fuel

It would be too expensive to send waste into space regularly like space bin men for a start and with there being around 6 billion tons of plastic waste on the planet, there would be no rocket that could take an impacful amount waste off the planet and be cost effective. You would spend billions and barely scratch the service.

Rockets cost a lot of money to send in to space. It would cost more than buying a brand new car to send as much plastic as a 5 year old could fit in their backpack by rocket on a path that will leave the earth. And you need to have a big rocket so won’t just hang out in space near Earth and get in the way of satellites.

Setting cost aside, the amount of plastic waste alone that’s created by NASA in the process of prepping and launching that rocket would be enough to fill more than one rocket more. So it won’t solve our plastic problem, it will only make it worse.

Although relatively rare some launches undergo “unscheduled rapid dissasembly” as Mr Musk recently pointed out. Imagine spreading the cargo across the globe if it were toxic.

Cost per ton to launch to geosynchronous transfer orbit: **$11.3 million**

Global yearly plastic waste production: **300 million tons**

Total global wealth: **$361 trillion**

Cost to launch yearly global plastic waste production to space: **$3390 trillion**

**Conclusion:**

It would not make sense to spend 9.4 times all the wealth that exists on the planet created over the average lifetime to launch a single year’s worth of plastic waste into space.

The problem with plastic isn’t with having it on the planet, it’s with just collecting it up and disposing of it properly in the first place so it stays out of the waterways and most of the environment.

We can’t even collectively get it all together and burry it properly on Earth which is literally dirt cheap. If we could gather it all up properly to even think about sending it into space that would already solve 99% of the problem if we just turned around and disposed of it in the way we already can without worrying about the impractical expenses of getting it to space.

Because all plastics are recyclable. It’s just expensive. However its cheaper than using current rocket technology.

What if we built a giant slingshot and shot it into outer space?

one day in the future, it will be viable digging up dumps to retrieve plastic waste to convert to oil..

This has been asked and answered here multiple time. The answer is cost. How much money it takes to lift a ton of garbage into space. No matter what you want to send one pound is one pound and cost approx $ 1500 to send to orbit. Once there you still need to send it to wherever. And that costs even more.

For a scale that would matter even if possible. Would start to make me worry that we’re permanently removing the only resources we have on our planet

Rule 7 requires that you search the sub before posting.

**Please read this entire message**

Your submission has been removed for the following reason(s):

* ELI5 requires that you *search the ELI5 subreddit for your topic before posting*.
Users will often either find a thread that meets their needs or find that their question might qualify for an exception to rule 7.
Please see this [wiki entry](http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/wiki/how_to_search) for more details (Rule 7).

If you would like this removal reviewed, please read the [detailed rules](https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/wiki/detailed_rules) first. **If you believe this submission was removed erroneously**, please [use this form](https://old.reddit.com/message/compose?to=%2Fr%2Fexplainlikeimfive&subject=Please%20review%20my%20thread?&message=Link:%20https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/kwca8k/eli5_what_exactly_is_stopping_us_from_sending_a/Please%20answer%20the%20following%203%20questions:1.%20The%20concept%20I%20want%20explained:2.%20Link%20to%20the%20search%20you%20did%20to%20look%20for%20past%20posts%20on%20the%20ELI5%20subreddit:3.%20How%20is%20this%20post%20unique🙂 and we will review your submission.