Florida Is Now Launching So Many Rockets That Its Disrupting Air Traffic

According to a report from Spectrum News 13 in Central Florida, the former presidential candidate addressed a growing concern during a recent press conference on airline cancellations. Captain Shem Malmquist, a pilot and visiting professor at Florida Tech, explained to News 13 that the rising number of commercial launches in the thriving private space sector is exacerbating the overall chaos experienced at airports.

“In Florida, where the closure of airspace to accommodate commercial space launches now happens often enough to noticeably affect airline schedules, we are engaging the space sector to keep more launch windows clear of peak flight periods,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

Although the current transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, did not specifically mention any company names, it is very clear that his remarks refer to SpaceX. And all this is not only due to SpaceX’s prominent position in the commercial spaceflight industry but also because Buttigieg and Musk have been involved in a well-known feud.

“If you take SpaceX, they’re launching satellites to be in a particular orbit, you can’t just delay a couple of hours and have those get into a particular position,” Malmquist said. “And so, there’s only so much the [Federal Aviation Administration] can do towards that.”

The animosity between Buttigieg and Musk seems to have originated in 2021 when Musk took offense to a provision in the White House’s Build Back Better Act, which offered significant tax credits to buyers of union-made electric vehicles.

“Honestly,” Musk said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, “I would just can this whole bill.”

In response, Buttigieg made references to Musk while promoting union jobs in the electric vehicle sector—a clear jab considering Musk’s history of opposing unionization.

Although the transportation secretary later acknowledged Musk’s contributions to the advancement of electric vehicles in the United States, he has consistently opposed Musk’s initiatives, including his proposal for a high-speed rail system called the “hyperloop.”

“Sure, try it,” he told Gizmodo in 2022, “but we’ll probably not try it on our dime.”

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Buttigieg criticized Tesla, specifically its assisted driving software, arguing against calling it “Autopilot.”

The ongoing drama between Buttigieg and Musk along with the escalating issue of flight cancellations makes the situation in Florida is quite chaotic. But commercial spaceflight industries continue to experience significant growth which unfortunately makes the outlook very unlikely to improve any time soon.

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