The United States is witnessing “record growth” in space launches with the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic helping push the boundaries of flight, said Kelvin Coleman, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation.

Speaking to FINN at the Space-Comm Expo 2023, he said: “We’ve seen record growth in launch and reentry in United States over the past five years. We expect that growth to continue.

“One of the growth areas that I expect to see is in the area of human space flight. We are carrying our astronauts to the International Space Station with SpaceX, but also Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic and other companies, Boeing of course, are looking to get into that arena as well.

“So I look to see that area take off significantly in the next five years. It’ll be exciting to see.”

Space launches

Coleman added: “At the FAA we have 14 licensed spaceports throughout the country, they are a variety of space sports, coastal and within country space sports. We have an office of spaceports that is responsible for shaping the policy that will support spaceports.”

The FAA is also getting better at minimising disruption for commercial aircraft when these launches happen.

The agency recently determined the existing airspace restrictions for most Florida launches were too large and could be safely reduced.

Previously for a typical launch, up to 36 flights were rerouted to congested overland routes, slowing up to 4,300 passengers and resulting in upwards of 300 minutes of delay and 1,500 extra miles flown. These flights can now remain on their most optimal and efficient routes more frequently. For 10 of the 12 launches that have occurred to date since the change took effect in April, no flights on this route were rerouted.
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