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Sat, Oct 20, 2007

NASA Publishes Airspace Restrictions For STS-120 Launch

Discovery Scheduled To Fly October 23

For next week's launch of space shuttle Discovery's STS-120 mission, NASA managers are urging all aircraft pilots to fully comply with the airspace 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 US Coast Guard to help provide a safe launch environment for the shuttle crew and for interested spectators," said Shuttle 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 Tuesday, October 23, with liftoff scheduled for 1138 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 Eastern Range 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 Kennedy during the hours immediately following the launch of a space shuttle.

For the launch of Discovery on mission STS-120, all restricted areas surrounding Kennedy 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 Discovery, 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 Kennedy 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. This will continue in effect until 30 minutes after launch, after which the standard restricted areas for Kennedy and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will remain in effect. On Tuesday, October 23, the TFR will be activated at 0433 local time, and will remain in effect until 1203 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 39A 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 include Space Coast Regional Airport and Arthur Dunn Airpark, both in Titusville, and Merritt Island Airport on Merritt Island.

Within an airspace radius between 30 and 40 nautical miles, 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, New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport, Melbourne International Airport and Valkaria Airport. While Massey Ranch in Edgewater is within 30 miles of Pad 39A, there is a four-mile cutout which includes this airport within the 30-40 mile radius.

Before flight, pilots should contact the St. Petersburg 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 at 118.9 megahertz.

FMI: www.nasa.gov, www.tfr.faa.gov

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