The licensing of launch and reentry activities, that is, conducting launches and reentries, operating launch and reentry sites, and the issuing of experimental permits for reusable suborbital rockets — are considered federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Consequently, AST is responsible for analyzing the environmental impacts associated with proposed licensed or permitted activities. AST prepares the appropriate environmental documents NEPA requires as part of the review process.
These environmental documents include Environmental Assessments (EAs), Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), and Categorical Exclusions (CATEXs).
The licensee/permittee must provide sufficient information to enable AST to comply with:
- NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.
- The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations for Implementing NEPA, 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508
- FAA Order 1050.1E, Change 1 – Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures (PDF)
In addition to these requirements, other federal, state, and local environmental requirements may apply.
Once all environmental requirements are satisfied, AST prepares an environmental determination, for example, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or a Record of Decision (ROD), which becomes a part of the license or experimental permit evaluation. AST's environmental team also oversees launches and launch site operations to ensure compliance as appropriate.
For detailed information on the environmental review process, please refer to Guidelines for Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Related Environmental Review Statutes (PDF). For additional CEQ guidelines and policies please refer to CEQ NEPA Guidance.