In the recording of the SpaceX live-stream covering the return of the Inspiration4 crew in the Dragon spacecraft one can see an aircraft visually cross path with the capsule at 22:59:58. While the encounter is stunning to see, the proximity is surely just apparent, owed to the viewing angle and extreme focal length of the lens. I asked a question over on space exploration but it occurred to me that many aspects are actually aviation questions. Here are my questions regarding the aviation side of the incidence.
The video is apparently taken from another aircraft. The GPS data visible in the upper left corner indicates an altitude of "
20.846 "20,846" (?), I suppose 20.846 km 20,846 feet, above mean sea level.
At closer inspection, the crossing airplane seems to me at an angle of maybe 15 or 20 degrees above or below the horizontal plane (the vertical stabilizer seems visible and the wings seem to appear at a flat angle).
I have the following questions:
- Which airplane was that? In particular, was it a another flight related to the landing, operated by SpaceX?
- At what altitude was the crossing airplane flying at that time?
- From what I have read, the landing zone is in international waters outside the jurisdiction of the FAA; therefore, no Temporary Flight Restriction can be issued. Instead, a general Notice to Airmen is issued whose character, I understand, is advisory. (This resembles the situation on sea where the coast guard merely "discourages" vessels to enter the exclusion zone.) Did such a Notice to Airmen exist? If the airplane was not SpaceX's, was it violating/ignoring that notice?
The following image is a frame from the video. The bright dot in the middle is the capsule. I'm not sure what the direction of the shot is, whether it is pointing upwards or downwards, and at what angle. Knowing the altitude of the other plane would give us an idea.