Watching Transporter-2 Mission, currently after 15:02 in the video (after an extended hold at T-00:00:11) I heard a voice say:

Countdown hold to due fouled range.

and there was an @elonmusk tweet about it:

Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the “keep out zone”, which is unreasonably gigantic.

There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken.

At least it wasn't a fishing contest.

Question: Just how "unreasonably gigantic" was the exclusion zone for the scrubbed SpaceX's Transporter-2 Mission first attempt? What is it about the current regulations that makes it so big (at least in Musk's view)?

All dressed up and no place to go:

Screenshot from SpaceX video Transporter-2 Mission https://youtu.be/_qnD0bgjGOk

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    $\begingroup$ Elon Musk likes to complain about federal regulations. It appears to be one of his favorite hobbies. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ Somebody removed too many comments. I left a comment explaining my downvote because @uhoh has been critical of people who downvote questions (not just their questions) with nary a reason supplied for the downvote. Now that the question has been edited from what I perceived as a request for a doxxing of the transgressor to a lesser request for "what kind of aircraft traffic event", I am retracting my downvote. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ For others who followed my lead and downvoted because of the appearance of a request for a doxxing, you might want to reconsider your downvotes. The question has been edited so you do not have to change a downvote to an upvote. You can retract a downvote by clicking on the downvote button you had previously selected. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ A certain [small aircraft] is currently busting the TFR for today's launch and a certain commercial aircraft was just a few seconds away from busting it. Maybe this stuff just happens quite frequently? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ @BrendanLuke15: From what I understand, it is indeed quite normal that aircraft and/or boats violate the exclusion zone. However, normally, they will be contacted by ATC (or whatever the marine equivalent is), apologize, and turn around, and the Space Force's Range Safety Officer is typically satisfied that the vessel poses no danger to the rocket (nor the other away round), and will have left the exclusion zone in time. A "Hold, Hold, Hold" would only be called if the vessel appears uncooperative / non-compliant, or there is not enough time for the vessel to leave the exclusion zone. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


SkyVector shows the two current TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) around Cape Canaveral related to the SpaceX launch: Sky Vector TFRs

The accompanying information with these TFRs say:

No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM (except as described).

With the exceptions being "[aircraft] supporting the recovery of the space vehicle" and DoD (Operation Noble Eagle and US Coast Guard activities most likely)

The long and skinny TFR has an altitude coverage "From the surface up to Unlimited" and the wide blunt TFR is "From the surface up to and including FL(180)" or 18,000ft/5,500m.

I suspect Mr. Musk is most upset about the blunt TFR considering the launch pad location and direction of flight: Launch Pad location in TFRs

Scale: the arc of the blunt TFR is 30 nm (~56 km) in radius centered on the launch pad. (I know it doesn't look centered on this map rendering but it is defined correctly in the TFR)


I just double checked my work and the 30 nm blunt TFR arc in fact NOT centered on SLC-40! It is centered on a point between LC-39 A & B at the Kennedy Space Center, some 7 km (3.8 nm) away!

I do not know what regulation dictates this 30 nm zone but it does seem dated and large (and misplaced!), especially with modern advances in flight termination systems, (AFTS 2019 Briefing Slideshow$ ^1$) and a launch vehicle with a very good track record.

  1. AFTS 2019 Briefing Slideshow, found linked on this page of NASA Flight Opportunities for Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS)
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    $\begingroup$ The question also asks about what traffic caused the scrub. Perhaps the question is too broad. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble ya it does seem like those are two separate questions; I'll remove the "What kind of aircraft traffic event...?" part here and think about what to do with it. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps, to understand Mr Musk's frustration, it is more interesting to know where the exclusion zones were violated, rather than which aircraft triggered the abort? Also, why countdown could not be resumed (assuming that the offending aircraft was chased out quickly)? $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding your last paragraph, Chris Gebhardt of NASASpaceflight speculated during today's webcast more or less the same thing: that the exclusion zones are designed for manual flight termination, which relies on a human noticing that something is wrong, inserting two keys into two locks, turning them, and hitting a button, whereas an AFTS does all of that in milliseconds. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ I found this exclusion map also (patrick.spaceforce.mil/Portals/14/…). This shows that, w/o knowing where the offending incident occurred, we are using "shaky" facts in our debate about the unreasonable size of the exclusion zone. $\endgroup$
    – Ng Ph
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 12:33

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