Can I fly a rocket of any size with just an FAA waiver?

Could I fly a rocket on an orbital trajectory, like the SS-520? (Although for that I realize there are FCC and NOAA licenses on the satellites.)

Also what licensing would I need to actually build a rocket of that size (like LEUP) and to transport it to the launch location?

Lastly what kind of launch site/rocket inspection and launch oversite/NOTAM and other notices would I need?

Just to be clear: I am talking about experimental rocketry within the realms of Copenhagen suborbitals and CSXT, and I am not talking about NAR, tripoli or model rocketry.

I would be using ammonium perchlorate, aluminum powder, and iron oxide for solid. And liquid methane/LOX for an autogenous pressurization closed cycle gas generator engine.

I have already checked my townhall for applicable fire ordinances.

  • Yes over 4.4 ounces you need a LEUP (low explosives users permit) – user25300 Jun 5 at 20:01
  • What about transportation to bring it to a launch site would I need any permits? Also what agency would check to make sure my rocket is safe? – user25300 Jun 5 at 20:41
  • If you are the one launching it you would be the one right next to it, so it's up to you to be sure it is safe. As for transport, the explosives permit is what you need. It covers handling and storage in general, not just at your home or wherever you build it. – Putvi Jun 5 at 20:43
  • Thanks, but I heard you need to file a NOTAM and have an air traffic control representative controlling the self destruct button incase it goes into an unsafe trajectory. – user25300 Jun 5 at 20:46
  • Not all rockets have a self destruct button. The air traffic people likely won't come to you. You would have to just get FAA approval over the phone. – Putvi Jun 5 at 20:47

There are different rules for amateur rockets and space transportation.

Amateur rockets are unmanned rockets that have a combined impulse across all motors of at most 200,000 lb-sec and that cannot reach an altitude of over 150 km. These rockets are comparatively lightly regulated, but you need FAA approval to fly in controlled airspace (which includes all airspace above 18,000 feet) or near an airport. You cannot fly an amateur rocket on an orbital trajectory or into another country; for high-powered amateur rockets, you also can’t fly into clouds or areas with low visibility, have to stay far away from any person or property not associated with the launch, and have to fly during the day unless you get FAA approval.

If you want a higher-powered rocket or want to make an orbital flight, you instead have to meet the requirements for space travel. Space launch licenses are much more in-depth than FAA approvals for amateur rocket operations. If you’re launching a reusable suborbital rocket, you might be able to get an experimental permit. If not, you’re held to the same license requirements as a company like SpaceX. These requirements are substantial. Not only does the launch need to be licensed, but so does any permanent launch site. The launch needs to be reviewed for policy (does it affect US national security, foreign policy, or compliance with international agreements); safety; payload acceptability (both for policy and safety); financial responsibility; and environmental impact. Experimental rockets have streamlined procedures (they rely on the rocket staying within the permitted operating area to ensure safety), but they do still have to meet policy, safety, financial responsibility, and environmental requirements.


I don't know what fuel you use, but you would have to make sure you have a BATF license for the fuel if it is needed for whatever you are using.

The FAA wavier is fine for launching obviously, just make sure they understand how high you want to launch.

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