This week’s Federal Register offered two interesting space items.
The FAA amended multiple restricted areas around Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Vandenberg is a launch site for orbital launches, and the FAA’s technical amendment changes the coordinates for special use airspace under 14 C.F.R. part 73. Part 73 governs limits the operation of aircraft within restricted areas. Restrictions are in place during a launch. Although this constitutes a regulatory change, because it is only a technical amendment, the FAA is not offering a comment period.
maritime limits change over time. The FAA has received updated digital data for maritime limits from NOAA. Digital data is more precise than measurements used in the past. The FAA, through the implementation of its data-driven charting process, was able to utilize this new data to accurately update the U.S. maritime limit boundaries used for aeronautical charting. Prior to the update, the maritime limit boundary data used for charting were over 25 years old. In applying the updated data, FAA found that some restricted area boundary descriptions, that were based on the maritime limits, did not correspond to the updated shoreline data. Consequently, there are minor mismatches between some restricted area latitude/longitude coordinates and the actual shoreline position. This rulemaking action updates the affected boundary coordinates of restricted areas R–2516, R–2517, R–2534A and R–2534B, in California to maintain the intended shape of the airspace in relation to the U.S. shoreline and to improve their representations on aeronautical charts.
Effective date: 0901 UTC, February 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, NASA announced a new Centennial Challenge competition for printing a habitat:
The 3D-Printed Habitat (3DPH) Challenge Phase 3 On-Site Habitat Competition is open, and teams that wish to compete may now register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The 3DPH Challenge Phase 3 On-Site Habitat Competition is a prize competition with a $2,000,000 total prize purse to develop and demonstrate capabilities to autonomously manufacture through 3D-printing technologies a habitat on another planetary body using mission recycled materials and/or local indigenous materials. The Phase 3 competition consists of 5 levels. This technology demonstration competition has great potential value for terrestrial applications.
Registration Date: Registration ends February 15, 2018. See the notice for more dates of significance.