Is it possible to collaborate openly (publicly) world-wide with others to develop a suborbital/orbital capable rocket/launcher and to publish the resulting know-how (both software and hardware)? There are laws that restricts exports of arms (ITAR in US, similar in EU) which may apply to publishing such info.

It looks like ITAR does not care about information that is publicly available (ITAR paragraph 120.11) but I am not sure if I understand it correctly. Can someone confirm?

These questions may be related:

  • 5
    This is one question applied to multiple jurisdictions. I see no lack of focus of the sort which should lead to closure, and I oppose closing this for such a reason. Commented Oct 31, 2021 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


It’s perfectly legal for private individuals and organisations to develop rockets

Just like it’s legal for them to develop aircraft or motor vehicles. Space X, Boeing and BMW are all private organisations.

While any of these could be used as weapon delivery systems, they aren’t weapons.

There are a bunch of laws and regulations that they must comply with, but that’s true of any business.

  • I am asking about open source development which may differ from private closed source development where you only publish (or sell) the final product. It looks like ITAR does not care about information that is already public - according to paragraph 120.11. So can you confirm once again publishing know-how that covers functional rocket parts (which may together form a whole orbital rocket) is allowed?
    – Kozuch
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 20:35
  • I’m sure software is involved in rockets but why are you focused on that to the exclusion of hardware ? Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 21:55
  • @GeorgeWhite I am not excluding hardware. By "open source" I mean both software and hardware. I edited the question to clarify.
    – Kozuch
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 22:25
  • 1
    In both common law and civil law jurisdictions the default position is that you can do anything unless the law says you can’t. There is no law that says you can’t. There are laws about how you can launch rockets and how to make them safely (the same laws about how to make crackers safely, in general) but none that prohibit this.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 22:38
  • 1
    Thanks - Also proprietary development with a cross national team could have sone similar concerns. Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 15:11

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