Commercial Space Transportation

Proposed Streamlined Requirements

On March 26, 2019, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced proposed new rulemaking around launch and reentry requirements. The proposed rule provides a safe, performance-based regulatory approach to commercial space transportation. It promotes safety practices by creating flexibility for operators to meet safety requirements, and by enhancing collaboration among stakeholders. The rule also improves efficiency by encouraging potential and current launch site and reentry operators to suggest and implement design and operation solutions.

Secretary Chao's National Space Council Meeting Remarks

DRAFT-NPRM--Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements (PDF)

The NPRM will be published in the Federal Register at a later date.

Enabling Statute

The Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, as amended and re-codified at 51 U.S.C. 50901 - 50923 (the Act), authorizes the Department of Transportation (DOT) and, through delegations, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST), to oversee, authorize, and regulate both launches and reentries of launch and reentry vehicles, and the operation of launch and reentry sites when carried out by U.S. citizens or within the United States. The Act directs the FAA to exercise this responsibility consistent with public health and safety, safety of property, and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. The Act also directs the FAA to encourage, facilitate, and promote commercial space launches and reentries by the private sector, including those involving space flight participants.

Commercial Space Regulations

FAA commercial space transportation regulations are located in Chapter III, Parts 400 to 460, of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The regulations implement statutory requirements.

Amateur Rocket Activities are not regulated under 14 CFR Chapter III; they are regulated under 14 CFR Chapter I, by the FAA Air Traffic Organization.

Recently Published and Historical Rulemakings

The published rulemakings listed below include commercial space transportation proposed rules and final rules that have been published in the Federal Register. These rulemaking documents include preamble language that provides background information and justification relevant to current regulations.

Notice of Proposed Rulemakings

Final Rules

Guidance Documents

Guidance documents provide information to aid understanding and compliance with specific FAA regulations. They include Advisory Circulars, guidelines, handbooks, and sample applications about commercial space transportation safety and other regulatory matters. Although not guidance per se, legal interpretations from the FAA's Office of the Chief Counsel address specific legal issues that have precedential effect.


To help in the pre-application process, AST provides simple application checklists organizations may use when applying for a launch or reentry license, experimental permit, launch site operator license, or safety approval. These checklists are available to assist applicants in developing a comprehensive, compliant, and complete application for AST review and approval.

Launch Site Safety Assessment updates

A Launch site safety assessment (LSSA) means an FAA assessment of a Federal launch range to determine if the range meets FAA safety regulations since they were first published in 2006. A difference between range practice and FAA regulations is documented in the LSSA. As some Federal launch range practices change over time, a record of these changes is tabulated and maintained in the "Launch Site Safety re-Assessment Matrix." The bundled package here is comprised of three documents: the introductory LSSA Overview and Update, the LSSA re-Assessment Matrix itself, with its identified changes in federal range practices, requirements and the FAA's summarized determinations, and lastly the FAA's Review of some of those identified changes for determinations of equivalent levels of safety.

Useful Links

These links provide additional information about regulations and the regulatory process.

Last updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2021