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'Atlantis' to launch Wednesday, pilots must observe TFR'Atlantis' to launch Wednesday, pilots must observe TFR

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The FAA has issued a notam in conjunction with Wednesday's scheduled launch of the space shuttle Atlantis. The TFR, in effect from 11:30 a.m. through 8:45 p.m. local October 2, establishes a 30-nm "no-fly" zone (surface to 18,000 feet) centered on the launch complex (see graphic: VFR and IFR). In addition, pilots flying within an area 30-40 nm from the launch facility must maintain communications with ATC, operate on an assigned squawk code, and receive a clearance prior to operating within TFR airspace. These restrictions will impact operations at 11 public-use airports, including New Smyrna Beach (EVB), Massey (X50), Sanford (SFB), Orlando Executive (ORL), Daytona Beach International (DAB), Merritt Island (COI), Space Coast Regional (TIX), Dunn (X21), Orlando International (MCO), Melbourne International (MLB), and Valkaria Airport (X59). Combined, these airports are home to over 1,800 based aircraft and host over 1.5 million GA operations each year.

In the event the shuttle is unable to launch, its next launch window will be the following day. AOPA advises pilots to contact St. Petersburg Flight Service Station for the latest information prior to conducting flights proximate to TFR airspace.

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