Florida is a prime site for space launches, which means big disruptions for commercial aviation
Space: The Final Frontier (via Florida)
The Kennedy Space Center is NASA’s primary launch spot for human spaceflight. It is based in Florida, just along the coast east of Orlando. northwest of Cape Canaveral, midway between Miami and Jacksonville…
Yeah, that’s near a whole lot of big airports and busy airspace. We will get to that in a moment.
There were 57 launches in 2022, up on 31 from 2021. So it is a busy spot for space stuff, and a busy spot for non space stuff.
There’s really not much space
There really isn’t, which is why when launches take place from the Kennedy Space Center, they often gets in the way of us mere head in the clouds aviators.
Now, they don’t just fire them off willy nilly. We do get warnings. You can find the launch schedule on the Kennedy Center or NASA sites.
But that is not all. The FAA set up a TFR – temporary flight restriction – which is basically an area where you can’t fly because, you know, rockets be rocketing (and sometimes debris be falling).
So we get plenty of warning, and there are other things to help too:
- You will find little space center symbols on all the new FAA navigation charts so you know where the sites are
- The Space Data Integrator receives and distributes launch and re-entry data to try and help avoid big disruptions to the NAS
- And there is this MOU between NASA and the FAA saying they’ll try real hard to work together
Something about limited space?
OK, great, but there is very limited space particularly along the east coast of the USA, in that Florida area where the big launch site lies which means when those TFRs are in action and airspace is closed, it impacts a whole lot of folk.
The Florida Metroplex consists of everything on that sticky outy dangly bit. We are talking:
- KFLL/Fort Lauderdale
- KMLB/Other Orlando (Melbourne)
- KPBI/Palm Beach
- More/I got bored of writing them
And that is just the biggest, on one side. There are big airports on the other side too, and other places not too far away (like the Bahamas and Key West), along with a whole bunch of military areas.
And then there are the Atlantic routes which folk use to head north and south, avoiding the fairly busy domestic overland areas.
And then then there is the weather which tends to be hot and stormy.
It is some of the USA’s most congested airspace… and they keep throwing rockets into the mix as well!
Well, more than 80 percent of the Florida launch trajectories are to the east and south which has meant closing a portion of airspace which contains extremely busy overwater routes from the northeast to central Florida airports in Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota, among others.
On a typical launch day:
- Up to 36 flights re-routed
- Up to 4,300 passengers affected
- Up to 300 minutes of delay
- Up to 1,500 extra miles flown
They have made more space!
Yep, they have, and it is for commercial aviation. The space that has been effectively returned to us is part of that northern chunk, freeing up the busy routes I mentioned above.
This will mean:
- No more re-routes
- No passengers affected
- No delays
- No extra miles required
Here it is, taken straight from the FAA website:
Great news! Hopefully less delays (unless the weather piles up, which it does have a nasty tendency of doing).
I put them in the post, but here they are again: