Licenses, Permits and Approvals

Commercial Space Transportation Licenses, Permits and Approvals

  • Getting Started with Licensing: Overview of the application process, an assistance tool to help determine whether a license, permit, or approval is needed for a program, and how to contact our office to begin pre-application consultation.
  • Vehicle Operators License: May authorize launch, reentry, or both.  The license covers pre- and post-flight operations as defined in 14 CFR 450  
  • Experimental Permits: Optional authorization designed for developmental reusable suborbital rockets or reusable launch vehicles that may be issued in place of a vehicle operator license for research and development, showing compliance or crew training
  • Amateur Rockets: Commercial space vehicles that do not exceed 150 km in altitude with thrust less than 200,000 lb-sec are classified as amateur rockets. 
  • Spaceport Licenses: Launch and Reentry Site Operator Licenses allow a spaceport to host vehicle activities, which are separately licensed or permitted.   
  • Safety Element Approvals: Separate from launch, reentry, and site licenses, however they may be submitted concurrent with a vehicle operator license. 
  • Payload Reviews: Normally performed as part of a launch authorization. Payload owners may request an independent Payload Review.
  • Financial Responsibility: All permit and launch or reentry license holders must provide evidence of funds to cover potential damage incurred as a result of a mishap.
  • Legacy Regulations: Guidance documents related to previous vehicle licensing regulations. Parts 415/417, 431, and 435 have been replaced by Part 450 for all new applications.

Current Active Licenses, Permits, and Approvals

The FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation authorizes launch and reentry operations, the operation of launch and reentry sites, and issues safety element approvals. To access the list of current active licenses, permits and approvals, see below:

Types of Authorizations

More information on the Licensing Process

Approvals, Reviews, and Amateur Operations

Operational Data

Forecast Graph July 2023

Access more Commercial Space Operational Data

Last updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2023