Getting Started with Licensing

Commercial Space Transportation Assistance Tool

Need help figuring out which kind of license you need? Let us help! Select an option below.

Step 0

Step 1

Will your vehicle be Orbital?
Will Site Operator offer its site to only amateur rockets?
Are there humans on board your vehicle?

Step 2

Yes.
Vehicle Operator License, Part 450.
No.
Will your suborbital vehicle meet ALL of the following?
  • No Humans onboard
  • 150 KM altitude or less
  • 200,000 lbs‐‐second total impulse or less
Yes.
No license required
No.
Will Site Operator offer its site to other vehicle operators?
No.
Are you a license applicant looking to apply for a policy approval in advance of submitting a license application?

Step 3

No.
Will your suborbital vehicle meet ANY of the following?
  • Expendable
  • Carrying humans or payloads for compensation or hire
Yes.
Will the Site Operator only support launch vehicle operations?
No.
Exclusive Use Site: a Launch Site (Spaceport) license is not required. A launch vehicle license with additional safety considerations is required. Please restart the assistance tool and choose "Vehicle Operations" to determine the appropriate authorization.
No.
Are you looking to get an approval to show compliance with a specific regulation?

Step 4

Yes.
Launch Site Operator License Part 420.
No.
Will the Site Operator only support reentry vehicle operations?
No.
Are you a payload owner or operator looking to get approval to launch or reenter a payload?

Step 5

Yes.
Reentry Site Operator License Part 433.
No.
Will the Site Operator support both launch and reentry vehicle operations?
Yes.
Payload Approval
(may be conducted separate from a license or permit application)
No.
Talk to Commercial Space Transportation 202‐287‐7793 Email

Step 6

Yes.
Apply for a Reentry Site Operator License Part 433 and Launch Site Operator License Part 420.

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. Also check the Commercial Space Transportation Regulations page.

To Start the Application Process

All applicants go through a similar Process. These can include a license, permit, or approval.

To start a process contact Commercial Space Transportation (PDF).

Pre-Application Checklists

To help in the pre-application process, Commercial Space Transportation 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 Commercial Space Transportation review and approval.

Step by Step Process for all Applicants

All applicants go through a similar Process. These can include a license, permit, or approval.

To start a process contact Commercial Space Transportation (PDF).

Initial Discussions

  1. Begins with conversations on the applicant's Concept of Operations (CONOP)
  2. A Commercial Space Transportation POC is assigned to the applicant
  3. A regulatory path is defined based on the applicant's CONOP
  4. Movement into Pre-App depends on License/Permit/Approval

1. Pre-Application Consultation

  1. A full pre-app team is assigned to the applicant
  2. The license documents may be created and submitted to Commercial Space Transportation for feedback and refinement
  3. The environmental process (NEPA) begins [if applicable]
  4. The airspace and U.S. Coast Guard discussions begin [if applicable]
  5. Ends when the application is submitted formally and accepted by Commercial Space Transportation for evaluation

2. Application Evaluation

  1. 120 days for permits (statutory requirement)
  2. 180 days for licenses (statutory requirement)
  3. 180 days for approvals (internal AST requirement)

3. License Issuance/Denial

  1. If a license/permit/approval is issued, Safety Inspectors conduct inspections.

Commercial Space Transportation Process — Site/Vehicle Operator License

Licensing process

After License Issuance

  1. Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement
  2. Modifications
  3. Renewal