JO 7400.2K
Effective Date:
April 3, 2014

Subject:  Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters


Chapter 31. Amateur Rocket and Commercial Space Operations

Section 1. General

31-1-1. PURPOSE

This 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.


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. Title 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.

c. 14 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 U.S. territory 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 U.S. Government.

31-1-3. POLICY

a. ATO 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 analysis.

b. All proposals for development of launch or reentry sites, and the conducting of commercial space launches and reentry operations, must be immediately forwarded to AST.


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 airspace management.


a. Aircraft 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.

b. 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 than 150 kilometers (93.2 statute miles) above the Earth's surface.

c. 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.

d. Applicant - 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 reentry site.

e. Ground 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.

f. Launch 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 AST.

g. Operator - an amateur rocket operator or an entity that has received a license or permit from AST to conduct a launch or reentry operation.

h. 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.


a. Current regulations can be viewed at ecfr.gpoaccess.gov and www.tripoli.org. These are routinely updated, and are more current than the printed versions.

1. Commercial space regulations can be found at 14 CFR Chapter III.

2. Amateur rocket regulations can be found at 14 CFR 101.

b. The FAA's Commercial Space Transportation organization website contains information about current and planned launches, issued licenses, industry news, and announcements.

c. Additional amateur rocketry information can be found at the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) website at www.NAR.org.

d. FAA 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.


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