Airspace Complications For Private Space Launch

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Although most of the proposed spaceports are in remote areas, AOPA has expressed concerns about airspace being closed down for frequent launches, especially at the Oklahoma site, which is currently used as a municipal airport. "For three hours during each launch ... 16 Victor airways could be closed. When combined with the two nearby military operations areas, a launch could severely limit the options for GA aircraft transiting across the entire state of Oklahoma," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services. The New Mexico site is also a concern, AOPA said. That site is adjacent to the White Sands Missile Range. AOPA said the FAA should use the existing large restricted areas over the missile range to protect commercial launches and not take any more airspace away from general aviation use. AOPA told the FAA that a "complete assessment of the impacts on all airspace routes, both VFR and IFR routes, must be incorporated in the final environmental assessment before full consideration is given to the establishment of the commercial spaceport at Clinton-Sherman Airport [in Oklahoma]."