Date of Award

Spring 2024

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautics


College of Aviation

Committee Chair

Jennifer E. Thropp

First Committee Member

Carlos A. Castro

Second Committee Member

Janet K. Tinoco

College Dean

Alan J. Stolzer, Ph.D.


With an increasing number of space flight operations in the United States, space flight integration into the National Airspace System (NAS) is a pertinent area of research so safe and efficient operations in NextGen airspace can be achieved. The currently implemented procedure for Florida east coast launches temporarily closes the airspace to keep all air traffic operations out of the launch trajectory and potential hazard areas to maintain the safety of air traffic and space vehicles. This results in the flight deviation from the shortest flight route, leading to extended flight distance, prolonged flight time, and extra fuel burn. This simulation-based quantitative study analyzed the recent airspace impacts using three NAS operational efficiency metrics; flight distance, flight duration, and fuel burn of the purposively sampled traffic data using a quasi-experimental research method. The air traffic was simulated for two launch days and four no-launch days to evaluate the impacts of two different launch trajectory types; northeastern and southerly launch trajectories operated from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40). The simulation-generated numerical data was sorted by city pairing based on the airline, flight number, aircraft type, departure airport, and arrival airport, then categorized into Primary pairs and Secondary pairs to analyze the difference in impacts on flights that fly closer to the launch trajectory path and flights that do not fly closer to the launch trajectory path. Ultimately, this study also expanded a focus on flights departing from and arriving at Florida airports to see if there is any statistically significant difference in impacts on local airport operations under Florida airspace. The organized city-paired flights were analyzed with paired samples t-tests to examine if there is a statistically significant difference in NAS efficiency metrics between launch day and no-launch days for each trajectory type. The most significant impact was observed among Florida arrival Primary flights with 21.20 to 46.48 NM longer flight distance, 2.11 to 6.12 minutes longer flight duration, and 104.40 to 242.65 lbs. extra fuel burn on the northeastern launch day with an average additional fuel burn cost of $101.45 per flight. The southerly launch analysis showed the most significant impacts among Florida departure Secondary flights with 18.18 to 43.10 NM longer flight distance, 2.11 to 5.99 minutes longer flight duration, and 124.56 to 318.28 lbs. extra fuel burn on the launch day with an average. However, Secondary flights in the southerly launch analysis were potentially impacted by the weather deviations that occurred northwest of Florida airspace on the selected southerly launch day. This study also indicated that both northeastern and southerly launches particularly affected flights arriving at and departing from KFLL, KMCO, KMIA, KPBI, and KTPA. From the pre- and post-launch analysis with independent samples t-tests, Primary flights arriving at Florida airports within two hours after the launch experienced a significantly extensive flight distance, duration, and fuel burn compared to the flights arriving before the launch.