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SpaceX Toxic Red Cloud

In a followup story to last Saturday's explosion and destruction of the SpaceX Crew capsule at Cape Canaveral, Florida Today reports that the explosion released a very toxic red cloud.

Hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide are instantaneously explosive when mixed and extremely toxic by themselves. The Spaceport Camden draft EIS specifically lists these as two propellants that will be used and stored at the Camden spaceport. These fuels are commonly used to propel satellites and upper stages of rockets. Tests like the one conducted last week at Canaveral are planned for Spaceport Camden and will be in addition to the proposed 12 annual launches.

Two sentences from the story are critical to those who still think a spaceport on the Union Carbide site in Camden County is a sensible idea:

"To prevent any potential exposures to the public, tests like Saturday's are conducted when prevailing winds point away from population centers."

"What few likely knew was just how toxic and potentially deadly that distant cloud could have been if winds had shifted onshore."

Very simply put, the geography of Spaceport Camden does not offer any direction for the wind to blow that would not allow a similar toxic cloud to drift over "population centers." A breeze in any direction will carry the toxic cloud over Harrietts Bluff, Jekyll Island, Brunswick, Kings Bay, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Little Cumberland Island, Fernandina, or Saint Marys. Note in the image below that the cloud was visible on radar more than 50 nautical miles form the spaceport. There is no safe direction for the wind to blow at Spaceport Camden. This risk is not identified in the Spaceport Camden Draft EIS.

In a Twitter post (click to see the animated gif), the writer showed the path of the toxic cloud on radar as it drifted far out to sea:


Note that one of the tweeters (a NASA Engineer?) wrote:

You can read the whole story here: [LINK]

In a related story, SpaceX has announced it will land the first stage from its next launch on the offshore drone ship rather than at the previously designated landing pad that was contaminated by the explosion.

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