Sorry if this is a little broad and hypothetical or too legal.

Say I (as a company) (hypothetically) was to build a space gun, reasonably similar to the 7-incher here in Canada, but with a second stage (hybrid acrylic/Lox) and a bit more complex, and able to reach a good 400km orbit.

Besides not shooting it at a Cessna or landing the projectile in an apartment building or something, are the legal hurdles manageable for a very small company with little lobbying power? Would I have to get a temporary no-fly exclusion zone, for instance, and have a range officer with an "explode" button etc? Essentially, is this something that someone who isn't Elon Musk or Gerard Bull could legally accomplish?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you expecting to get 6000+ m/s of ∆v off of an acrylic/LOX stage of 7 inch diameter? At any rate, this is entirely a legal question; you'll need to meet your country's requirements for both air travel and privately owned artillery; there's going to be a hell of a lot of paperwork. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 5 '15 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ A badly designed hybrid will get you 230s isp, insofar as I've seen. Effective Exhaust V is that times 9.8, so the rocket equation is 6000=230*9.8*ln(r), which gives me a mass ratio of about 14.5, which seems achievable to me; empty weight 15kg, full 210kg. So if my equation is correct, then I should be able to get at least 6k dV if I hit that mass ratio, no? Anyhow, thanks for the info. I guess this is a bit too much of a legal question for here. $\endgroup$ – 0xDBFB7 Oct 5 '15 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ That mass ratio and Isp gets you 6000 m/s, yes. The projectile would be much heavier and stubbier than the HARP darts, so the gun launch would contribute less ∆v. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Oct 5 '15 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ You will also need to get in contact with NORAD prior to each launch, who will presumably let Russia know. Just so you don't accidentally start world war 3. I remember seeing a video on auroras, where some scientists were sending up sounding rockets, and the had to get permission prior to each launch $\endgroup$ – DarcyThomas Oct 5 '15 at 22:27

Laws are only as good as the regulators come up with at the time. I doubt there is specific laws governing this, but there are a few analogs which can be used.

  1. Amateur rockets- If you are going to fly a spacecraft really high, you have to get a permit. This will involve a no fly exclusion zone, as anything that flies really high. This will probably involve a larger zone than is typical, owing to the large horizon that would be required (The projectile would remain closer to the Earth for further horizontally than a traditional rocket)
  2. Space Ship One- Received first license for suborbital rocket flights to be issued by the US Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

Some issues of particular note: If your spacecraft can survive going 6 km/s in the atmosphere, then it would survive re-entry, without slowing down significantly. That makes it very dangerous.

You would probably need all of the same setup for a small orbital rocket company. Take a look at SpaceX around 2007, to see the types of things they had to do. They ended up launching from islands in the Pacific because that's where they were allowed to launch from.


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