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Going to the space might not be so bad for the environment

Elon Musk is often accused of not taking enough into consideration the damages
that his ventures cause to the Earth. Things, however, seem to be about to change.
Tesla CEO has in fact recently tweeted about a new project that his company,
SpaceX, is about to start: an ambitious program to take CO2 out of the atmosphere
to convert it into rocket fuel.

As it seems, making rocket fuels out of CO2 is already possible. Almost a hundred
years ago, the Nobel winning chemist Paul Sabatier developed a process that,
combining CO2 with hydrogen and a catalyst, resulted in methane and water. The
SpaceX rockets use engines that burn liquid oxygen and methane, therefore the
Sabatier process, already used by NASA to produce water in the ISS, could be
fundamental.

The real challenge is to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. Some projects are
already at work. In Iceland, for example, a company called Climeworks is currently
already removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The problem lies in the prohibitive cost:
to remove one tonne of CO2 currently costs from 600$ to 800$. Another option
could be the project of the NET Power, a pilot program that burns natural gas to
store and save CO2 emission.

Musk has announced to found 100$ million to working solutions at a scale of at
least 1000 tonnes removed per year, with a cost of 1 million tonnes per year and
which show a pathway to achieve a scale of gigatonnes per year in the future. His
efforts are all focused on achieving a settlement on Mars, where CO2 and hydrogen
would be removed to convert them into rocket fuel for the return journey to the
Earth.