U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

ORDER
JO 7400.2J
Effective Date:
February 9, 2012
 
     

Subject:  Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters
Includes:  Change 3 effective 8/22/13, Change 2 effective 3/7/13, Change 1 effective 7/26/12 and  Errata effective 2/9/12.

 

Chapter 31. Rocket and Launch-Vehicle Operations

Section 1. General

31-1-1. PURPOSE

This chapter provides guidance, policies, and procedures for processing requests for rocket and launch vehicle operations in the NAS.

31-1-2. AUTHORITY

a.  Public 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:

1. Promote economic growth and entrepreneurial activity through utilization of the space environment for peaceful purposes.

2. Encourage 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.

3. Designate 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.

b. Part 101 prescribes rules governing the operation in the United States of moored balloons, kites, amateur rockets, and unmanned free balloons.

c. Part 400 establishes procedures and requirements regarding the authorization and supervision of all launches of vehicles constructed for the purpose of operating in, or placing a payload in outer space, and certain suborbital rockets conducted from within U.S. territory or by U.S. citizens. The part 400 regulations, however, do not apply to amateur rocket activities or to space launch activities carried out by the U.S. Government on behalf of the U.S. Government.

31-1-3. POLICY

It is air traffic policy that all proposed waivers to Part 101 requirements for amateur rocket operations that are expected to reach an altitude higher than 25,000 feet above ground level must be forwarded to the Airspace Regulations and ATC Procedures Group, (AJV-11). In addition, all Class 3 rocket operations, as well as those rockets/launch-vehicles that are licensable under Part 400, must also be forwarded to AJV-11. AJV-11 will then forward the proposals to the Office of Commercial Space Transportation, (AST), for review. Upon completion, AJV-11 will return the AST recommendation to the originating service area office.

31-1-4. RESPONSIBILITY

a. Air traffic has the authority to grant waivers to part 101 for amateur rocket activities, and is responsible for integrating all rocket and launch-vehicle operations into the NAS. AJV-11 is air traffic's point of contact for such activities and is directly responsible for coordinating certain proposals regarding airspace operations and procedures with AST.

b. The Licensing and Safety Division, AST-200, within the Office of Commercial Space Transportation is responsible for the licensing of launch sites and those launch vehicle operations that fall under part 400. Additionally, any required waivers and/or exemptions to part 400 will also be issued by AST-200.

c. Communication and coordination between AST and air traffic is paramount. Since AST personnel are not located at the regional offices, the required AST coordination occurs at the FAA Headquarters level.

31-1-5. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ANALYSIS

a. Launch site and reentry actions are subject to NEPA Order 1050.1, Policies and Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts, and other applicable regulations, public laws, and statutes.

b. All NEPA requirements associated with licensed commercial space transportation activities will be addressed by AST as part of the site licensing process.

31-1-6. DEFINITIONS

a. Amateur 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 that 150 kilometers (93.2 statute miles above the Earth's surface.

b. Amateur Rocket classes:

1. Class 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 propellant.

2. Class 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) or less.

3. Class 3 – an advanced high power rocket, other than a model rocket or high-power rocket.

c. Launch Vehicles. Vehicles built to operate in, or place a payload in, outer space or, a suborbital rocket. Part 400 requires that launch vehicle operations be licensed by AST.

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