The FAA has announced that it is adding more space launch activity area markers to pilot navigation charts with the goal of “increasing pilot safety and airspace awareness.” Citing a significant increase in commercial space operations, the agency emphasized that pilots flying near space launch activity areas should check the NOTAM database for any space operations-related TFRs. It further noted that pilots should be aware of non-FAA-licensed launches such as those conducted by NASA and the military.
“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,” the agency said. “All 12 FAA-licensed spaceports, and other federal and private launch and reentry sites, are represented on the charts by a rocket symbol.”
A total of 41 commercial space launches and reentries were licensed by the FAA in 2020, the highest number in the agency’s history. According to the FAA, 50 or more commercial launches could be conducted in 2021. FAA-licensed spaceports are located in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.