Section 1. General
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.
- Title 51 of the United States Code (51 U.S.C.), National and Commercial Space Programs, is the compilation of the general laws regarding space programs. 51 U.S.C. was issued December 18, 2010, when signed (“H.R. 3237”.) into law under PL 111-314.
- Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Aeronautics and Space:
- Chapter I, Subchapter F, Part 91, Air Traffic and General Operating Rules;
- Chapter I, Part 101, Moored Balloons, Kites, Amateur Rockets, Unmanned Free Balloons, and Certain Model Aircraft;
- Chapter III, Commercial Space Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation, Parts 400-460.
- 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.
- 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 Federal Aviation Administration's policy is to use an interdisciplinary approach to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations. This policy requires all projects be reviewed in a timely manner by all necessary stakeholders to determine the impact to the NAS.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Amateur rocket classes:
- 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.
- 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.
- Class 3 - an advanced high power rocket, other than a model rocket or high-power rocket.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Operator - an amateur rocket operator or an entity that has received a license or permit from AST to conduct a launch or reentry operation.
- 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.
- Current regulations can be viewed at ecfr.gov.
- Commercial space regulations can be found at 14 CFR Chapter III, Parts 400-460.
- Amateur rocket regulations can be found at 14 CFR, Part 101.
- The FAA's Commercial Space Transportation organization website contains information about current and planned launches, issued licenses, industry news, and announcements.
- Additional amateur rocketry information can be found at the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) website at www.NAR.org.
- FAA Order JO 7210.3, Facility Operation and Administration, contains guidance and policy for processing waiver/authorizations applicable to amateur rocket operations as well as commercial space letter of agreement facilitation and coordination.
- FAA Order 7930.2, Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM), contains procedures for issuance of “Airspace,” “Temporary Flight Restriction,” and “ALTRV” NOTAMs.
- FAA Order JO 7610.4 .Special Operations established authority, responsibility, and general operating procedures under the ALTRV concept for Central Altitude Reservation Function (CARF) and other concerned ATC facilities.