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Commercial Space

Paul Behan (ZJX) is the Article 114 Rep for Commercial Space integration.  

Background: Historically, space launch and reentry operations in the NAS occurred infrequently and were segregated from other operations by containing them within special activity airspace. These launch and reentry operations were conducted almost exclusively by federal agencies, originated from coastal sites, and air traffic was routed around the SAA to ensure public safety. Given their infrequency and high national priority there was little incentive to make these complex operations more efficient with respect to their effects on NAS efficiency and capacity. NASA and the DoD are no longer the only participants in space launch and reentry operations, there are numerous private companies now launching an increasing number of government and commercial missions into space, often from new places. New launch sites are being developed at inland sites, including dual-use facilities that host both space and traditional aviation operations. As the commercial space transportation industry evolves and becomes more prevalent in the NAS, the FAA must ensure regulatory compliance, create policies & procedures, and develop automation and decision support tools for ATC to fully integrate commercial space operations rather than segregate. 

Acceptable Level of Risk (ALR)  

Contingency procedures subgroup: Two Document Change Proposals (DCP’s) to the 7110.64 and 7210.3 are in the 45-day management review period which will create the Debris Response Area (DRA) and Expedited Movement Area (EMA). The DRA replaces Refined Hazard Areas (RHA’s) and will only be activated if there should be a debris generating event in the NAS. An SRMP for the Debris Response Area has been scheduled for June 8th – 10th. The EMA will replace the Transitional Hazard Areas (THA) for launch and reentry activities and risk exposure limits will be based on time limitations, not angular restrictions. One significant item still unresolved is the ability to provide ATC services at airports that underly an EMA. Under current ALR procedures ATC services will not be provided at airports which underly a THA. A “next steps” meeting has been scheduled to discuss the progress of MITRE safety/risk analysis. Formal procedural development for EMAs has begun, however the team is awaiting a decision on next steps to either move forward with the EMA DCP or await MITRE’s complete analysis. 

ALR Training Subgroup 

Due to the number and extent of the changes being proposed to ALR the 2019 eLMS course will need to be modified to reflect the new procedures. Sincere there are several aspects which may change with varying timeframes, we have agreed to supplement the existing eLMS with a post-course “delta briefing” which will cover any changes to the material just covered. This briefing is meant to be a temporary fix until all ALR changes are complete and a new eLMS course can be developed. The delta briefing is now complete and awaiting the completion of the DRA SRMP before it will be deployed. AJI will issue a new tasking memo will be that will correct an oversight in the 2019 tasking memo. The new tasking memo will assign the original eLMS course and subsequent Delta briefing to all operational NAS personnel including TMCs, STMCs, FLMs, OMs, regardless of facility.  

ALR for Oceanic Environment Subgroup 

The ALR Oceanic Procedures subgroup meets biweekly. 2 tabletop exercise meetings to develop and test procedures for building airspace reservations in ATOP, inserting flow NOTAMs, and activating THA reservations were planned. The team completed part 1 of 2 of the tabletop exercises with ZOA. The planning meeting was led by AJR-1800 Space Ops, using a launch package that simulated a Kodiak mission with a THA. The objective of the exercise was route validation and coordination. The participants discussed flexible routes and dynamic routes, like PACOTS and UPRs. Several challenges were identified, including outstanding issues surrounding roles & responsibilities and the creation of written procedures which need to be addressed. The team’s next focus is part two of the tabletop which will take the information from the planning meeting and attempt to depict it in ATOP at the sectors. 

The Hazardous Airspace Needs Analysis (HANA) is the newest title for the AJV-S group working on developing the requirements for SDI Phase 2. The HANA concept combines NSIC with SDI Phase 2 and will be the investment which will generate and disseminate hazardous airspace in real-time on a CPC’s display. A series of meetings are scheduled to discuss needs with key ATC operational stakeholders.  

NAS Integration of Transition Operations (NITRO) is an AJV-S effort focused on integrating a wide array of upper-Class E operations into the National Airspace System. NITRO objectives include improving situational awareness of launch and reentry operations, implementing various data sharing mechanisms, and eventually culminating with procedures for ATC separation of space vehicles, UASs, and other users of upper-Class E. These objectives are broken into 3-year, 5-year, and 7+ year timeframes. I will be participating in a series of recurring Technical Interchange Meetings (TIMs) to provide input on the development and refinement of these objectives to be included in the ATO corporate plan which is due in September.  

The Space Data Integrator (SDI) 

The team continues to work towards deployment. There is still a lot to do including coordinating with FTI for connectivity to support key site and operational use, the ATO signature process is ongoing, and finalizing the Test NCP during the 5/24/21 CCB. The SDI MVP test NCP is scheduled for May 24th. 

NAS Space Integration Capabilities (NSIC) 

The team continues to work on establishing a collaborative work group to support the NSIC Investment Analysis activities. This will be a part-time CWG to support the activities needed for the September 2022 Final Investment Decision (FID). Engineering activities continue in preparation for the work group sessions this summer. 

LOA development 

Several reentry LOA’s are in development including SpaceX reentry to Gulf & Atlantic sites and Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser reentry to Huntsville AL, and the Shuttle Landing Facility. Both are progressing well and should be prepared for signature in the coming months.  

Upcoming and recurring meetings: 

  • Weekly Mission Support Strategy (AJV-S) meetings 
  • Weekly meetings with AJR, AJV, and PMO counterparts 
  • Weekly MITRE meetings 
  • Weekly NITRO meetings 
  • Weekly Commercial Space LOA meetings 
  • Bi-weekly HANA meetings (formerly SDI Phase 2) 
  • Bi-weekly Acceptable Level of Risk (ALR) meetings 
  • Bi-weekly Acceptable Level of Risk (ALR) subgroup meetings 
  • Bi-weekly Joint Space Operations Group (JSpOG) meetings 
  • Bi-weekly NAS Space Integration Capabilities (NSIC) 
  • Monthly Space Data Integrator (SDI) meetings 
  • Quarterly Technical Interchange Meetings (TIM’s) 
  • LOA development meetings – ongoing 
  • Training development – ongoing  

Facility/site visits as needed. 

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