April 12, 2012
By Alyssa J. Miller
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), a commercial group that develops rockets and spacecraft, is proposing to build vertical launch and control areas in Cameron County, Texas, to conduct up to 12 commercial launches a year.
The FAA is hosting public scoping meetings as part of an environmental impact study to determine the effects of conducting orbital-vertical-launch-vehicle missions from the site. AOPA is reviewing the proposal to determine its impact on general aviation. Rocket or spacecraft launches typically result in temporary flight restrictions or other special-use airspace that can negatively impact GA flight operations in the vicinity.
Pilots can provide input during a May 15 meeting from 5 to 8 p.m. at the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center (ITEC Center) in Brownsville, Texas. The meeting will include a one-hour workshop at 5 p.m., followed by an overview of the environmental process at 6 p.m.; the time for comments will take place from 6:15 to 8 p.m.
Comments also can be submitted by email or mail before May 30 to: Stacey M. Zee, FAA Environmental Protection Specialist, SpaceX EIS c/o Cardno TEC Inc., 275 West Street, Suite 110, Annapolis, MD 21409. Please share a copy of your comments with AOPA.
After the environmental review is complete and satisfactory, SpaceX must still meet FAA safety, risk, and indemnification requirements before it can be granted launch licenses or experimental permits.
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
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