Orlando, we have a problem.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... yet another rocket clogging the Florida skies, which according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is not at all bueno.
As Central Florida's Spectrum News 13 reports, the one-time presidential candidate explained the apparently-growing issue during a recent press conference about airline cancellations.
"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," Buttigieg said.
Pilot and Florida Tech visiting professor Capt. Shem Malmquist told News 13 that more and more commercial launches in the booming private space sector are indeed compounding the general sense of chaos at airports.
"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."
A History of Violence
Though Buttigieg didn't name any names, it's not hard to tell that the former South Bend, Indiana mayor was referencing, at least in part, SpaceX — not only because it's the dominant commercial spaceflight company, but also because he and CEO Elon Musk have had pretty extensive beef.
The bad blood between the two appears to have begun back in 2021, when Musk took umbrage to a provision in the White House's Build Back Better Act that would give sizable tax credits to people who bought union-made electric vehicles.
"Honestly," Musk said at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council Summit, "I would just can this whole bill."
Although the transportation secretary later credited Musk with helping make EVs "possible in America," he nevertheless has continued to counter the multi-hyphenate CEO's maneuvers, including his "hyperloop" high-speed rail proposal.
"Sure, try it," he told Gizmodo in 2022, "but we’ll probably not try it on our dime."
Buttigieg again took aim at Tesla in a new interview with the Associated Press, criticizing the company's assisted driving software, which he said shouldn't be called "Autopilot."
Between the Buttigieg-Musk drama and the increasing problem of flight cancelations, things are pretty screwed in Florida — and with the commercial spaceflight industry continuing to see massive growth, it probably won't get better before it gets worse.
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