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Licensing Process

Commercial Space Transportation Assistance Tool

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

Will your vehicle be Orbital?

  • Yes.
    Launch Only?
    • Yes.
      Is your Vehicle Reusable?
    • No.
      Reenter Only?
      • Yes.
        Is your Vehicle Designed to Return Intact?
        • Yes.
          Apply for a license under
          Part 435
        • No.
          No License is Required
      • No.
        Launch & Reenter?
        • Yes.
          Is your Launch Vehicle Reusable?
        • No.
          Talk to Commercial Space Transportation
          202-267-7793
          Email
  • 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

Will Site Operator offer its site to only amateur rockets?

  • Yes.
    No license is required
  • No.
    Will Site Operator offer its site to other vehicle operators?
    • Yes.
      Will Launch Site (Spaceport) host only launch vehicles?
      • Yes.
        Apply for a Launch Site
        (Spaceport) Operator License
        Part 420
      • No.
        Will Launch Site (Spaceport) host only reentry vehicles?
        • Yes.
          Apply for a Reentry Site Operator License
          Part 433
        • No.
          Will Site host both launch and reentry vehicles?
          • Yes.
            Apply for a Reentry Site Operator License
            Part 433 and Launch Site Operator License Part 420
          • No.
            Talk to Commercial Space Transportation
            202-267-7793
            Email
    • No.
      This is an Exclusive Use Site:
      a Launch Site (Spaceport) license is not required. A launch vehicle license with additional safety considerations is required. Please start again with a Launch Vehicle License.

Are there humans on board your vehicle?

  • Yes.
    Review Human Space Flight Requirements
    Part 460
    (In addition to Parts 415, 431, or 437)

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.

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.

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.

Initial Discussions

  1. Begins with conversations on the applicant's 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 are created and submitted to Commercial Space Transportation for feedback and refinement
  3. The environmental process (NEPA) begins [if applicable]
  4. The airspace and US Coast Guard discussions begin [if applicable]
  5. Ends when the application is submitted formally and approved 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

Commercial Space Transportation Process - Site/Vehicle Operator License

(click to enlarge)

After License Issuance

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

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/space/licensing_process/