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Compliance Monitoring & Enforcement

How does the FAA enforce and monitor Commercial Space Transportation?

Our safety inspectors monitor pre-operational, operational and post operational phases of FAA regulated Commercial Space Transportation activities which can impact public safety and the safety of property.

The Division Manager administers the safety inspection process while the Enforcement Program Manager ensures proper development and maintenance of the Enforcement Program including adherence with all applicable FAA Orders and Commercial Space Transportation's internal procedures.

Pre-operational activities include:

  • Qualification, installation and testing of flight safety system components
  • Mission readiness reviews
  • Safety compliance and support reviews
  • Safety working groups, and planning discussions
  • Operational rehearsals, simulations, and exercises.

Operational activities include:

  • Monitoring countdown procedures
  • Operator communication processes
  • Procedural execution
  • Vehicle processing and preparation
  • Safety critical operator/launch site personnel interaction
  • Identifying non-nominal or public safety issues.

Post operational activities include:

  • Monitoring of post operational reviews
  • Post flight/reentry evaluations
  • Lessons learned discussions
  • Documenting observed compliance and non-compliance
  • Communicating and coordinating with operators to correct noncompliance issues

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation monitors licenses compliance with the Commercial Space Launch Act, the Commercial Space Transportation Licensing Regulations, and the terms and conditions set forth in its license. A licensee shall allow access by, and cooperate with, federal officers or employees or other individuals authorized by FAA to observe any activities of the licensee, or of the licensee's contractors or subcontractors, associated with the conduct of a licensed activity. We verify that you are operating in accordance with the representations contained in your application.

We must also ensure that no one is engaged in commercial space transportation operations illegally, that is, without a license.

For specific rules and regulations, see 49 U.S.C. Section 70104(a) (PDF) and 14 CFR Section 413.3. For small-scaled (amateur) rocket activities that are exempt from licensing, see 14 CFR Section 401.5.

The Office of Commercial Space Transportation's enforcement mechanisms include:

Mishap Response Program

What happens if there is a mishap during a Commercial Space Transportation activity?

The Mishap Response Program is Commercial Space Transportation's interface for all mishap related activities and also the external interface for mishap coordination and response planning to the United States Air Force (USAF) federal ranges, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), FAA Washington Operations Center (WOC), and FAA Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention (AVP).

The Mishap Response Coordinator (MRC) is the primary office of responsibility for developing, maintaining, and executing the Commercial Space Transportation Mishap Response Program.

These activities include:

  • Mishap response and accident investigation plan reviews in support of Commercial Space Transportation's license and permit evaluations
  • Interaction with the licensee or permittee for mishap preparation and prevention
  • Coordination and mishap response planning with FAA partners and stakeholders
  • Development, review, and updates to Commercial Space Transportation mishap checklists
  • Management of post-mishap activities within Commercial Space Transportation including distribution of mishap failure analyses corrective action information for review and resolution through the Mishap Review Board

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