FAA says fewer launches are closing Florida airspace after new changes

The FAA says it worked with Space Force and launch operators to open up more airspace during launches, resulting in fewer flight delays or reroutes.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Airline passengers flying from Florida airports are experiencing fewer flight delays and reroutes because of rocket launches, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Launches are happening with an increasing cadence because more launch providers are launching from Florida. SpaceX alone has launched 40 missions this year between its launch sites in Florida and California. 

Rockets launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Florida's east coast close airspace around the launchpads to planes flying into or out of Orlando International Airport, Melbourne, Tampa International Airport, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.

Officials with the FAA worked with the U.S. Space Force, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance and other launch providers on a new risk analysis allowing more airspace to open to airlines during a launch window. According to the FAA, before the change, the existing airspace restrictions for most Florida launches were too large and "could safely be reduced."

The new airspace closure range took effect in April.

The FAA said that since the new airspace closures have been in effect, fewer flights have been delayed or rerouted because of a rocket launch. Prior to the change, about 36 flights were rerouted during a typical launch affecting 4,300 passengers and adding up to 1,500 extra miles flown. According to the FAA, no flights were rerouted for 10 of the 12 launches that have happened since April.