The Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) on Tuesday morning defining a circle with a radius of two nautical miles around the launch pad where unauthorized aircraft are prohibited below 2,000 feet. The restriction is in effect through 8 p.m. Friday.
A rocket meant to boost an experimental hypersonic glider into the upper atmosphere exploded about four seconds after launch at around 12:15 a.m. Monday. According to a Department of Defense statements, the rocket was intentionally destroyed when it veered off course and no one was injured in the incident.
As authority for issuing the airspace restriction, the NOTAM cites federal law allowing military commands, civil authorities responding to disasters, law enforcement agencies and other officials to make the request.
Following the accident on Monday, an HC-130 Hercules airplane and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak flew over the site, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman.
Civilian aircraft flew over later Monday, including one chartered by the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Photographs taken during some of those flights have appeared in print and online.
The new airspace restriction went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The law cited by the NOTAM lists several rationale and situations for applying the restriction. These include aircraft relief activities following a disaster, preventing unsafe congregation of sightseeing aircraft, and the presence of potentially dangerous flammable agents or fumes.
Patches of discolored ground are visible in photographs taken by the Daily Mirror, about 425 yards north of Launch Pad 1, next to the
Rocket Motor Storage Facility. A large section of the outer skin on the north face of the Launch Pad 1 building appears to have come off. Damage was also visible on buildings just northwest of the pad, on the side facing the pad.
The nearest occupied building during the launch was likely the Launch Control Center, more than two miles northwest of the pad.
The intended trajectory for the rocket as described in an Army environmental statement was southward. The test glider was meant to land near the Kwajalein Atoll, 3,900 miles southwest of Kodiak.
Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which operates the state-owned launch facility, touts the vast downrange stretch of landless ocean as a safety feature of launching rockets from Kodiak.
The AAC board of directors is scheduled to hold its regular quarterly meeting starting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Best Western Kodiak Inn.