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New tool limits interference caused by space operations

FAA: New tool limits interference caused by space operations

In this Wednesday, June 30, 2021 file image, a SpaceX Falcon 9 reusable booster arrives for a rare land transfer at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., Seen from nearby Port Canaveral. Federal regulators said Thursday, July 8, 2021, that they can now better track rocket launches and spacecraft returning to Earth, which could cut the length of time aircraft must be routed around space operations. Credit: Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel via AP

Federal regulators said Thursday that they can now better track rocket launches and spacecraft returning to Earth, which could cut the time planes have to be routed around space operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a new tool automates near-instant delivery of spacecraft flight data to the country’s air traffic control system.

The tool, called the Space Data Integrator, will replace a system in which much of the work of providing telemetry data on spacecraft to air traffic control managers is done manually.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the first company to share floating telemetry data with the FAA, and others including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have since joined the program, according to the FAA.

The FAA said the new technology was first used on June 30 for the launch of SpaceX’s Transporter 2, which took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and launched dozens of satellites. It will be used again with the pending return of a SpaceX cargo ship from the International Space Station, the agency said.

“With this opportunity, we will be able to open the airspace more quickly and reduce the number of aircraft and other airspace users affected by a launch or reintroduction,” said FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson.

During space operations, the FAA closes a large part of the airspace for several hours in case the rocket or spacecraft breaks down. Airlines have to redirect flights, which causes them to burn more fuel and get on schedule. A single launch can affect hundreds of flights.

The growth in the commercial space industry, and with the number of launches and reintroductions, has raised concerns among airlines that disruptions will become more frequent.

According to the FAA, there were 45 space shootings and re-entries last year, a record, and that could increase to more than 70 this year.

The FAA said other changes it has already made have reduced airspace closure from an average of more than four hours to just over two hours for a launch. The agency said that the Space Data Integrator will reduce it further, but did not give a precise time.

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Citation: FAA: New Tool Limits Interference Caused by Space Operations (2021, July 9) Retrieved July 9, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-faa-tool-limits-disruptions-space.html

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