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Tue, Jun 05, 2007

Airspace Restrictions Will Be In Effect For Atlantis Launch

Watch For TFRs Next Week

For the STS-117 launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, NASA managers are urging all aircraft pilots and boaters to fully comply with the airspace, bridges and waterway restrictions imposed around Kennedy Space Center prior to and during shuttle launches and landings.

"As always, we are coordinating with officials from the US Air Force Eastern Range, Federal Aviation Administration and the US Coast Guard to help provide a safe launch environment for the shuttle crew and for interested spectators," said KSC Launch Director Mike Leinbach. "Violating these restrictions is not only unsafe for the astronauts and support crews, it's unsafe for the violator."

The first launch opportunity is Friday, June 8, with liftoff targeted for 7:38 p.m. EDT. This launch time is approximately in the middle of a 10-minute launch window. At NASA's request, Air Force and Coast Guard surveillance aircraft will patrol KSC's airspace boundaries on launch day. Violators will be intercepted by patrol forces, thoroughly investigated and subject to FAA enforcement action. A number of restrictions remain in effect around KSC during the hours immediately following the launch of a space shuttle.

The following are restrictions that apply to pilots using the airspace around KSC.

For the launch of Atlantis on mission STS-117, all restricted areas surrounding KSC will be active and the area covered by flight restrictions has once again been expanded for this launch.

Due to international terrorist activities, heightened security is essential to protect the space shuttle as a national asset. An inadvertent unauthorized incursion into the area of the Cape Canaveral Temporary Flight Restriction, or TFR, could cause a scrub in the launch of Atlantis, the activation of airspace defenses and an FAA enforcement action. Local pilots are asked to help NASA by respecting these temporary but necessary restrictions so the launch can occur on time and without incident.

The Eastern Range restricted airspace for KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is in effect on a continuous basis and is off limits to general aviation pilots. Access is limited to official aircraft only. The restricted airspace normally covers the area bounded by the Indian River to the west, Port Canaveral to the south, the city of Oak Hill to the north, and three miles over the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Pilots are encouraged to consult the current FAA aeronautical chart for Orlando Class B airspace.

On launch day, these restricted areas will be expanded by the TFR and will be activated seven hours before the launch window opens. It will continue in effect until 30 minutes after launch, after which the standard restricted areas for KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be in effect. On Friday, June 8, the TFR will be activated at 12:38 p.m. EDT. The launch is targeted to occur at 7:38 p.m. EDT. If the launch is scrubbed, pilots should check NOTAMs for the hours the TFR will be in effect for the next launch attempt.

General aviation and VFR operations are prohibited within a 30-nautical-mile radius of Launch Pad 39-B from the surface to (but not including) 18,000 feet (located on the Melbourne VOR/DME 004-degree radial at 30.6 nautical miles). Among the public-use general aviation airports affected within this area are Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Arthur Dunn Airpark in Titusville, Merritt Island Airport on Merritt Island and Massey Ranch in Edgewater.

Within an airspace radius between 30 and 40 nautical miles of Pad 39-A, a discrete transponder code must be obtained and clearance granted from air traffic control before entering this airspace.

Continuous radio communications must be maintained.

Among the public-use airports affected within the 30-to 40-nautical-mile radius in which flight is permitted but under positive air traffic control are Orlando International Airport, Orlando Executive Airport, Orlando-Sanford International Airport, the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport, Melbourne International Airport and Valkaria airport.

Before flight, pilots should contact the St. Petersburg FAA Flight Service Station at 1-800/WxBrief (1-800/992-7433) for details of the restrictions contained in the NOTAMS. In flight, outside Orlando Class B airspace, pilots should contact Orlando Approach control on 134.95. In the Melbourne area, contact Orlando Approach control on 132.65. In southern Volusia County, contact Orlando Approach control on 125.35. Flight Service can also be reached locally by radio on the Titusville RCO at 123.6 or the Melbourne RCO on 122.6. Advisories will also be available from the control tower at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville at 118.9 megahertz.

Between L-7 hours and L-3 hours, (12:33 to 4:33 p.m.) pilots will be permitted to depart and return to the airports managed by the Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority. These include Space Coast Regional Airport, Arthur Dunn Air Park and Merritt Island Airport.
After L-3 hours, no aircraft departures or landings at these airports will be permitted. It is important that pilots read the NOTAM for further details before planning a departure at these three local airports.

At Space Coast Regional Airport, pilots should contact ground control prior to departure at 121.850 Mhz for air traffic control instructions. At Arthur Dunn Air Park and Merritt Island Airport, pilots should telephone Orlando Approach Control at 407-825-3398.
Departure instructions, radio frequency to be used and discrete transponder code will be provided.

After departure, pilots must maintain continuous radio communications, squawking the assigned transponder code at all times while within the TFR airspace. Remain vigilant for the possibility of fighter aircraft within the TFR. In the event of radio failure, pilots should squawk 7600 and depart the TFR on a heading away from the NASA restricted areas.

FMI: www.tfr.faa.gov

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