Audit Initiated of FAA’s Integration of Commercial Space Operations Into the National Airspace System

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) — The National Airspace System (NAS) is used by the commercial space industry to transport astronauts, satellites, and, recently, civilian passengers into space. For these operations, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must shut down large portions of the airspace, resulting in operational inefficiencies to other users. FAA is developing the Space Data Integrator (SDI) to help reduce the impacts these operations have on other users of the NAS.

Citing the increasing frequency and complexity of commercial space launches, the Ranking Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its Subcommittee on Aviation requested this audit. The objectives will be to assess (1) FAA’s progress in implementing the SDI program and (2) actions taken and planned by FAA and the aerospace and aviation industries to integrate commercial space operations into the NAS.

FAA Opens Houston Space Safety Office to Increase Oversight of Texas and New Mexico Operations

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opened a safety field office in Houston to increase its oversight of commercial space operations in Texas and New Mexico.

From this location, FAA inspectors will be able to more effectively and efficiently monitor the ongoing testing programs and commercial space tourism operations of SpaceX and Blue Origin in Texas and Virgin Galactic in New Mexico, along with others in the region.

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FAA Rolls Out New System to Better Track Launches, Reentries

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can now track a space launch or reentry vehicle in near-real time as it travels through the National Airspace System. This new capability increases safety for all airspace users and assists the FAA in efficiently managing air traffic during space operations.

The Space Data Integrator (SDI) prototype automates the delivery of vehicle-related telemetry data to the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center. This vastly improves the FAA’s situational awareness of where the vehicle is as it travels to space or as it returns to the Earth. In addition to existing tools, the FAA also can use SDI to manage air traffic more efficiently as a space operation progresses and address contingencies in the event of an anomaly during a mission.

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