SpaceX Cleared for Thanksgiving, Black Friday Attempts; FAA Won’t Say Whether Weekend Is Blacked Out for Holiday Air Travel

by

PARIS — The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave launch service provider SpaceX approval for two mission attempts, on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, to launch the commercial SES-8 telecommunications satellite, the FAA said Nov. 26.

In response to SpaceNews inquiries, the FAA said it had refused SpaceX’s request to launch on Nov. 26 or Nov. 27, the two days prior to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. “These are two of the heaviest flight travel days of the year,” the FAA said. 

Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) scrubbed a Nov. 25 launch attempt minutes before liftoff when the rocket’s on-board computer detected “pressure fluctuations on the Falcon boost stage liquid oxygen tank,” SpaceX Chairman Elon Musk said in a Twitter posting late Nov. 25.

The FAA for several years has made special arrangements for use of the National Airspace System around Thanksgiving to ease commercial air traffic congestion. Measures have included allowing commercial flights access to an off-shore air corridor running up and down the U.S. East Coast that is otherwise reserved for military use.

FAA spokesman Hank Price said Nov. 27 that the agency would not speculate on whether a launch request on Nov. 30 or Dec. 1 — the end of the long holiday weekend — would be granted. Such a request has not been submitted and will be evaluated only once it has been received, with the decision based on expected air traffic volume.

 

Follow Peter on Twitter: @pbdes