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FAA Expands Space Data Integration With Virgin Galactic, Sierra Space

Situational awareness

FAA Expands Space Data Integration With Virgin Galactic, Sierra Space

The Federal Aviation Administration has integrated Virgin Galactic and Sierra Space into its Space Data Integrator tool to enhance its capability to monitor air traffic during space operations.

The companies will transmit data regarding their vehicles’ position, altitude and speed to the FAA’s SDI tool, helping the FAA reopen airspace more quickly after launches and reentries, the FAA said.

By integrating the data into its air traffic management system, the FAA can improve situational awareness and response to anomalies during space missions. The SDI tool, combined with other systems, enables the FAA to reopen airspace within three minutes after a vehicle passes through an assigned hazard area.

Tim Arel, chief operating officer of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, highlighted the complexity of the U.S. airspace, emphasizing the importance of data coordination for improving safety and reducing airspace closure durations during space operations.

Since 2021, 70 percent of commercial space operations in the U.S. airspace have shared SDI data, a figure expected to rise later in 2024 as more commercial space operators integrate into the system, according to the FAA.

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