57 votes
Accepted

Why isn't SpaceX's Starship "trial and error" development strategy an open source project?

There are many reasons. They include money, intellectual property, regulations, and Elon Musk. Money. Building open source software is relatively inexpensive, sometimes ridiculously inexpensive. No ...
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  • 62.8k
41 votes

Did the FAA license the Ingenuity helicopter to fly on Mars?

The FAA is not responsible for every US vehicle as that other answer alluded to. FAA licensing covers pilots, commercial aircraft, aircraft operators, and commercial spacecraft Earth launches and ...
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38 votes
Accepted

Why do Space X starship launches need permission from the FAA?

Because it's required by law (51 USC Ch. 509: Commercial Space Launch Activities) and by FAA regulations (14 CFR Chapter III - Commercial Space Launch Activities, Federal Aviation Administration, ...
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  • 62.8k
27 votes

Why do Space X starship launches need permission from the FAA?

To expand a bit on David Hammen's answer, the reasons for the regulations requiring FAA permits for rocket launches are related to public safety (or sometimes the egos of bureaucrats, but mostly ...
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  • 1,559
22 votes
Accepted

Did the FAA license the Ingenuity helicopter to fly on Mars?

No According to the FAA itself, licensing is for private individuals and companies, and applies only to the launch and re-entry parts of the flight: An FAA license is required for any launch or ...
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  • 46.3k
18 votes

What does it mean for a launcher to be 'nuclear-certified'?

Really what it means is "Category 3" certified, with an additional review of a self-destruct situation to prevent breaking the nuclear payload. Category 3 is also what is required to launch humans, ...
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  • 118k
12 votes
Accepted

How did Conrad let Bean drive Apollo 12? Did anyone get in trouble?

If such a thing happened, it would most likely have been during the approach and rendezvous of the LM ascent stage with the CM, as Conrad and Bean were returning from the lunar surface. The most ...
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11 votes
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Who/What is the international authority to assign/refuse orbit to a satellite/space-craft?

Geostationary slots are a rare resource and are assigned to countries by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) since they are mainly used for communications and broadcasting, and need ...
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  • 11.3k
11 votes

Is there such a thing as a "rocket license" in the US?

In the USA you must be at least 18 years old for the following, so that video may be incorrect. For example HPR Level 1 Certification by the National Association of Rocketry or NAR provides ...
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10 votes
Accepted

Might ISRO's 2018-004 launch be at least a technical violation of the Outer Space Treaty by India?

Sorry for being a few weeks late to this, but hopefully I can shed some light on how to think about it. The ISRO launch of these satellites is legally problematic in several ways. First, and as ...
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  • 1,300
9 votes

Might ISRO's 2018-004 launch be at least a technical violation of the Outer Space Treaty by India?

The satellites were launched on a vehicle operated by the indian government, with (at least implicit) permission of India. This is clearly not a violation of the Outer Space Treaty, it only means ...
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  • 1,062
9 votes

What is the legal status of waste rocket parts ending up in the ocean?

Are you interested in the liability for damage and contamination or the ownership? Either way there are holes you could drive a bus through. Most importantly in what follows, please bear in mind ...
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  • 8,848
9 votes

What regulations, agreements, or other forces can help mitigate "PrankSats"?

For your specific example, the answer is cost. Nobody is going to spend hundreds of millions (or even just 1% of that) just to prank a community of astronomers. For other examples? What stops China ...
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8 votes
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Current situation with CoCom regulations and GPS receivers for balloons and cubesats

There is a standard clause included in all GPS receiver manuals regarding COCOM Limits. I cannot find the source of this clause, but since it is worded exactly the same in all the manuals I could find,...
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8 votes

Why is Rocketlab working with a Federal Aviation Administration to investigate an early 2nd stage engine shutdown?

The Federal Aviation Administration is the United States' Federal Government organization responsible for every US vehicle that flies. The Electron flies, and it is launched by a US company, hence, it ...
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7 votes

Did the FAA license the Ingenuity helicopter to fly on Mars?

Out of jurisdiction Per outer space treaty, Mars is not in the jurisdiction of any US Government Agency.
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7 votes

If Country A's rocket hits an incorrectly declared satellite of Country B, which institution can arbitrate the dispute? Under which international law?

I'm going to assume here that both states are parties to the Liability Convention (see page 14 of that pdf) ("Convention"), which is likely since most spacefaring states are currently ...
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  • 1,300
6 votes
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What "regulatory purposes" would limit a launch test of a new vehicle to 50,000 feet?

Vector flew their test at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry site, which has permits from the FAA to fly to 50,000 feet on weekends without obtaining additional permits per launch. For early tests of ...
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6 votes

If you launch a booster from international waters, who do you have to notify beforehand?

It seems the host country of the company requires a permit. This has been done by only one company that I'm aware of, Sea Launch. Sea Launch was licensed by the FCC, as it was managed by Boeing. If it'...
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6 votes
Accepted

Is there such a thing as the Freedom of Information Act for the ESA?

The European Space Agency (ESA) is subject to the Regulations of the European Space Agency. One of these documents is ESA/REG/008 - Rules on Information, Data and Intellectual Property, the goal of ...
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  • 23.5k
6 votes

Regulation in space, debris and end of life considerations

The regulations and international guidelines for space debris were recently overhauled in 2018 after a long 20+ year lull. This is key to prevent any accidents in space as the number of low orbit ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Why does the NOAA require a permit to be issued to stream images of the earth?

Why does the NOAA require a permit to be issued to stream images of the earth? It's not just streaming. It includes all mechanisms for taking images of the Earth from space and somehow having that ...
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  • 62.8k
6 votes
Accepted

Are SpaceBEEs actually hard to track?

I think the answer to this is basically no or at least not any harder than other 1U CubeSats. I base this answer on two lines of argument. Also your data above more or less proves what I am about to ...
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6 votes

If Elon Musk wanted to bring back some Martian soil, would US permission be required?

Yes, and you've answered the question in your question! As you note, the FAA regulates launch and reentry for US-based operations. As part of this regulation, the FAA sends around applications to ...
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  • 1,300
5 votes
Accepted

What does it mean when a software is called open-source for US-release only?

Here is what the NASA Software FAQ says: The release type determines who can have a NASA software code. If you meet the access criteria for the code (as defined below), NASA can transfer the ...
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  • 23.5k
5 votes

Why does the NOAA require a permit to be issued to stream images of the earth?

The National and Commercial Space Programs Act (NCSPA) says: It is unlawful for any person who is subject to the jurisdiction or control of the United States, directly or through any subsidiary or ...
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  • 12.3k
5 votes
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Documentation and testing for a CubeSat launch?

I found this document which seems to be a checklist of requirements for the CubeSat launch systems. Listed in section 2 seems to be all the documentation and compliance the CubeSat launch provider ...
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5 votes

Documentation and testing for a CubeSat launch?

If you read ULA's "Aft Bulkhead Carrier Auxiliary Payload User's Guide" found here: "http://www.ulalaunch.com/Products_AtlasV.aspx" , you'll find details about the requirements for Auxiliary Payloads (...
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5 votes

How does ITAR affect SpaceX's display of the Orbcomm first stage outside their headquarters?

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 ...
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  • 316
5 votes

How did Conrad let Bean drive Apollo 12? Did anyone get in trouble?

Another candidate for Al Bean driving during the trip back is this line from day 9 of the mission. 211:18:45 Conrad: In case you're watching the DSKY, it's a little OJT [on the job training] for Al,...
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