22
$\begingroup$

I am not affiliated with any space agency. I do not have the resources to do so, but am I allowed to send a rocket to LEO without talking to any federal agency? Obviously that could be a danger to satelites and to the ISS, so I strongly suspect this is not allowed. What procedure does an individual have to follow to launch a rocket into LEO?

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Related: space.stackexchange.com/questions/4882/… $\endgroup$ – Robotnik Nov 24 '14 at 2:58
  • $\begingroup$ All that really matters is what jurisdiction you launch from. You might also be careful about exporting launch technologies to foriegn nationals (ITAR). This of course assumes you are American. $\endgroup$ – Erik Nov 24 '14 at 4:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Erik: As a European who has worked on Defense technology, I can tell you: No, ITAR applies to you as well. It's one of the fields in which everyone watches everyone. $\endgroup$ – MSalters Nov 24 '14 at 13:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in Charles Pooley of Microlaunchers. He's basically said on thespaceshow that regulations are a pain, but that they really are not meant to stop people from launching. He did launch a sounding rocket in 1993. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 24 '14 at 14:46
19
$\begingroup$

Short answer: No.

(if you live in the USA)

Long answer: Law is complex, but for a review of how things stood in 2005 check out: http://www.colonyfund.com/Reading/papers/NH_FAA_2005.pdf It's quite a good article on most of the relevant FAA regulations.

For more detailed reading see the Office of Commercial Space Transportation: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/regulations/

And in particular this section about “Amateur Rocket and Commercial Space Operations”: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/AIR/air3101.html

However all this only applies inside the US, take a short trip into (or over, a la Stratolaunch) international waters and, as far as I know, you can do whatever you want.

There's a good answer on Quora that addresses regulation once you reach orbit: http://www.quora.com/Are-the-orbits-of-satellites-regulated-by-an-organisation In short: there isn't much apart from radio frequency that is regulated.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Do these restrictions apply to sub-orbital flights like Copenhagen Suborbitals did ( copsub.com ) ? $\endgroup$ – DP_ Nov 24 '14 at 10:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Yes, some of these regulations still apply to suborbital flights, although not to Copenhagen Suborbitals as they are based in Denmark. Denmark probably has it's own regulation governing their activities. $\endgroup$ – ForgeMonkey Nov 24 '14 at 10:43
10
$\begingroup$

No. As ForgeMonkey notes, it's banned in the US. The same restrictions apply pretty much anywhere. The problem is that the necessary technology is essentially dual-use, with clear military applications.

Now not all countries are signatories to the various arms control treaties, so e.g. North Korean citizens aren't bound by these treaties. But in such dictatorships pretty much anything happens with government approval, and this certainly would.

Sea launches would be from a vessel, which still has to be registered somewhere. Trying to launch a rocket from an unflagged ship would very quickly draw all kinds of attention to you, including probably a few major navies.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Not just attention from a few major navies, but also missiles from those navies that are aimed straight at your pirate ship. +1. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Nov 24 '14 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ If you do this in North Korea, I think you will be immediately inducted into their military as an engineer to help them design their missiles. - lol - Of course, if you're living in North Korea, you're probably technically already part of the military anyway. Technically speaking, North Korea has more military personnel than any other country in the world, including even Russia, China, and the U.S., IIRC. $\endgroup$ – reirab Nov 24 '14 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ I imagine a few of those navies would thank you for the opportunity to test their interceptors as well. $\endgroup$ – Lilienthal Nov 24 '14 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ If by "thank" you mean fine you heavily, and possibly stick you in a prison cell, sure... $\endgroup$ – Caleb Hines Nov 24 '14 at 17:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.