Federal officials are reportedly not happy that the European Space Agency plans to drop a potentially toxic rocket into the Canadian arctic later today. The ESA is launching the Sentinel 5P satellite, an environmental probe designed to monitor trace gases in the atmosphere. A second launch of a similar satellite is planned for 2018. Global Affairs says Ottawa has complained about a planned satellite launch. It will drop a rocket stage likely containing toxic fuel into the sensitive waters off Baffin Island.
The satellite will be launched from Russia using Soviet-era rockets fuelled by hydrazine. Hydrazine is so toxic that almost every space program in the world – (including Russia’s own), has moved away from it. The second stage of the rocket, containing up to a tonne of unburned hydrazine, is expected to splash down in water between Greenland and Baffin Island. Bowhead whales, polar bears, and four types of seals swim in those waters. That 85,000-square-kilometre ocean area shelters most of the world’s narwhal, as well as about 14,000 beluga whales and 1,500 walrus. It’s also home to tens of millions of seabirds.
Global Affairs Canada has previously said that Canada “continues to express concerns to Russia” over potential environmental impacts. It has not said if it has protested to the European Space Agency, of which Canada is an affiliate member. The agency maintains all the toxic fuel burns up on re-entry.
Above Photo Credit: WWF
Below Photo Credit: aerospace-technology.com