There was a time, where people touring the SLC-40 facility were not allowed to take pictures of the engine end of the first stage for ITAR reasons. It appears that has relaxed since I have seen lots of images of that end of the vehicle.

But mounting a first stage, with real engines, outside their factory, where any Tom, Dick, or Danny Ocean could stage a heist and steal and engine seems like it might be a real ITAR issue.

Are there ITAR restrictions on their static display of the Orbcomm mission F9 first stage?

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    $\begingroup$ Does it have real engines? The current theory on /r/spacex is that they've already been replaced with dummies (one such comment). $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ How does ITAR apply to private companies? I assume it does, but I am sure it is different than if this were NASA, for instance. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @honeste_vivere Private companies have people facing jail time if they violate ITAR as well as fines. SO it really does apply $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Jun 30, 2017 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc - Ah okay, thanks. I was not sure whether there were different rules for government vs. private companies regarding ITAR. I do know we often have to ask our international collaborators to leave the room when discussing spacecraft specifics, which is often embarrassing for both parties. However, I work on NASA funded missions, so I only have experience from the government part. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 19:00

1 Answer 1


ITAR regulations restrict the defense-related information you can share with non-U.S. persons. There is no distinction between the rules applicable to a government agency like NASA or private contractors like SpaceX, Lockheed Martin etc.

Abiding by ITAR regulations is crucial for businesses in order to maintain a continual trust with their government customers. There are entire departments within private companies devoted to enforcing adherence to these regulations. A company has to carefully evaluate which of its physical components are restricted for public display. For example, looking at the outer casing of the F9 first stage may not provide any pertinent information that is not publicly available elsewhere (i.e. spacex.com). However, there are some components which may be removed prior to placing the first stage on public display. This can range from electronics to sensitive proprietary components on the engines. U.S. regulations will typically target anything that shows adversaries (and even allies) the full extent of our space launch capabilities.

For in-depth information about ITAR regulations, I'll refer you to the US State Department regulation depository.


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