Navigating U.S. Commercial Space Regulations

Space Launch and Reentry Licenses (FAA-AST)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation is the government entity responsible for regulating the safe operations of commercial space transportation. An FAA license is required for any launch or reentry, or the operation of any launch or reentry site, by U.S. citizens anywhere in the world, or by any individual or entity within the U.S. An FAA license is not required for space activities the government carries out for the government, such as some NASA or Department of Defense launches.

Commercial Remote Sensing Licenses (NOAA OSC/CRSRA)

Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) is a division of NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce. CRSRA licenses and regulates the operation of private Earth remote sensing space systems, subject to the jurisdiction or control of the United States.

Space Spectrum Licensing (FCC)

With limited exceptions, prior authorization from the Federal Communications Commission is required for satellite communications. The Commission’s licensing of space stations is “facilities-based,” meaning that the license is associated with a specific satellite. In the U.S. there is no license for use of spectrum that is separate from the FCC license to operate the space systems using the spectrum. The FCC does not license space stations already licensed by other countries. However, the FCC will grant non-U.S. licensed space stations access to the U.S. market through a process in which U.S.-licensed earth stations are authorized to communicate with non-U.S. licensed space stations