The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is increasing pilot safety and airspace awareness by marking more space launch activity areas on navigation charts.
Adding space launch activity areas to the navigation charts used by pilots who fly visually responds to the recent and expected continued growth of commercial space operations. All 12 FAA-licensed spaceports, and other federal and private launch and reentry sites, are represented on the charts by a rocket symbol. These areas are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
Pilots can download the free charts and reference the FAA Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide for more information. In addition, the FAA encourages pilots to check the NOTAM database for any Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) issued to divert air traffic from where space operations are scheduled.
In 2020, the FAA licensed 41 commercial space launches and reentries, the most in the agency’s history. For 2021, that number could reach 50 or more. Pilots also need to be aware of NASA, military and other government launches that the FAA does not license.
To learn more about how the FAA safely and efficiently integrates commercial space operations in the National Airspace System, please listen to the Ticket to Space episode of the agency’s The Air Up There podcast.