Chapter 31. Amateur Rocket and Commercial
chapter provides guidance, policies, and
procedures for processing requests for
amateur rocket, commercial launch and
reentry vehicle, and commercial launch and
reentry site operations in the NAS.
Law (PL) 98-575. Congress enacted PL98-575,
Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984,
codified at 49 USC subtitle IX, Chapter 701,
with its purpose to:
economic growth and entrepreneurial activity
through utilization of the space environment
for peaceful purposes.
the U.S. private sector to provide launch
vehicles and associated launch services by
simplifying and expediting the issuance or
transfer of launch licenses and by
facilitating and encouraging the utilization
of Government-developed space technology.
an executive department to oversee and
coordinate the conduct of launch operations,
to issue and transfer launch licenses
authorizing such activities, and to ensure
that public health and safety, foreign
policy, and national security interests of
the United States are satisfied.
14 of the Code of Federal Regulations
(14 CFR) part 101 prescribes rules governing
the operation of moored balloons, kites,
amateur rockets, and unmanned free balloons
in the United States.
CFR Chapter III contains requirements
regarding the licensing and operation of
launch and reentry sites (commonly referred
to as spaceports), and the licensing of
launch and reentry vehicle operators
intending to operate in, or place a payload
in outer space, and certain suborbital
rocket launches conducted from within
or by U.S. citizens. However, these
regulations do not apply to amateur rocket
activities or to space activities carried
out by the U.S. Government on behalf of the
service area forwards all requests for
Class II amateur rockets that will enter
Class A airspace and all Class III requests
to the Office of Commercial Space
Transportation (AST) for additional safety
proposals for development of launch or
reentry sites, and the conducting of
commercial space launches and reentry
operations, must be immediately forwarded to
The FAA or
DOD facility having control jurisdiction
over the affected airspace where the amateur
rocket, launch vehicle, or reentry vehicle
is projected to operate must be designated
as the controlling facility. When multiple
facilities may be impacted by an operation,
one facility will be designated as the lead
and be designated as the controlling agency.
The controlling facility will be responsible
for the execution of the appropriate
hazard area - the predicted location and
extent of the airspace potentially
containing falling debris generated by an
amateur rocket, launch vehicle, reentry
vehicle failure, or from the planned
jettison of stages or other hardware.
rocket – an unmanned rocket that is
propelled by a motor or motors having a
combined total impulse of 889,600
Newton-seconds (200,000 pound-seconds) or
less; and cannot reach an altitude greater
than 150 kilometers (93.2 statute miles)
above the Earth's surface.
1 - a model rocket that uses no more than
125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant; uses a
slow-burning propellant; is made of paper,
wood, or breakable plastic; contains no
substantial metal parts; and weighs no more
than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) including the
2 – a high power rocket, other than a model
rocket, that is propelled by a motor or
motors having a combined total impulse of
40,960 Newton-seconds (9,208 pound-seconds)
3 – an advanced high power rocket, other
than a model rocket or high-power rocket.
- an entity that has submitted a request for
waiver/authorization to part 101 for the
launch of an amateur rocket, or an entity
that has submitted an application to AST for
a license or permit to operate a launch
vehicle, reentry vehicle, launch site, or
hazard a r e a - the required separation
distance between the launch point and
nearest people or property that are not
associated with the operation.
vehicle - a vehicle built to operate in, or
place a payload in, outer space or a
suborbital rocket. Chapter III requires that
launch vehicle operations be licensed by
- an amateur rocket operator or an entity
that has received a license or permit from
AST to conduct a launch or reentry
vehicle - a reusable launch vehicle designed
to return from Earth's orbit or outer space
to Earth substantially intact. The
performance and maneuverability of reentry
vehicles may vary depending upon the design
of the vehicle, including those that descend
via parachute, those that glide to a
landing, and those that use rocket or jet
power to land.
regulations can be viewed at
ecfr.gpoaccess.gov and www.tripoli.org.
These are routinely updated, and are more
current than the printed versions.
space regulations can be found at 14 CFR
rocket regulations can be found at 14 CFR
FAA's Commercial Space Transportation
organization website contains information
about current and planned launches, issued
licenses, industry news, and announcements.
amateur rocketry information can be found at
the National Association of Rocketry (NAR)
website at www.NAR.org.
Order 7210.3, Facility Operation and
Administration, contains guidance and policy
for processing waiver/authorizations and is
applicable to waiver/authorizations issued
for amateur rocket operations.