FAA issues launch license to Rocket Lab

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Capitalism in space: The FAA has issued a launch license to Rocket Lab for three launches from New Zealand.

This is no surprise. As I noted on May 15, I suspect the reason Rocket Lab announced its launch date for May 22 before getting the launch license was to force the FAA to finally issue it.



  • wayne

    -How much do these launch-license’s cost the applicant?
    -Anyone have a link to a PDF of the entire application? I would like to read one.

  • Wayne: To see the license process for expendable rockets, go here: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/launch_reentry/#expendable

    They have different procedures, depending on the rocket. Go to https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/ to see all the options.

    The process is apparently complex and time-consuming, much more than it should be.

  • wayne

    Thank you!

  • fred

    Hmm. I’m wondering why a launch from New Zealand would require **any permission** from the US

  • Fred: Because Rocket Lab is based in the U.S., it needs FAA approval. This is to maintain its proper legal status in the U.S. so that satellite companies here can buy their services.

  • wayne

    -the company itself is based in the United States.
    (In part, this is the inevitable fall out of contorting the Commerce Clause beyond reality.)

  • Cotour

    Related because its about the FAA:


    Interesting. I am certain that the FAA knew the limits of their scope to regulate and thought that they would just go for it anyway and see what happens. I suppose this establishes a starting point to attempt to control to some degree, from their point of view?

    Drones can and I am sure will be something to contend with related to security in the future. They are relatively cheap, are getting more and more powerful, they can carry a bigger and bigger payload, longer and longer range and speed, essentially undetectable by radar, there can be many controlled simultaneously and precisely delivered pretty much anywhere using GPS. GULP!

  • Edward

    fred wrote: “I’m wondering why a launch from New Zealand would require **any permission** from the US

    In another thread, John E Bowen wrote: “the US has a big reach, big sphere of influence.

    US companies have to follow US law, even when they operate outside the US. For example, it is illegal for a US company to use bribery, even in countries where bribery is customarily expected (when working for defense contractors, I had to attend annual ethics classes just to make sure that these types of concepts were beat into my head).

    When a US company operates in New Zealand (a non-bribery country, just to be clear) then it is still required to get proper US permissions to launch its rockets, and it is still required to comply with ITAR restrictions (ITAR was beat into my head even while doing commercial work, but that is because even a communication satellite is considered a munition, for ITAR purposes — heh, it seems that the continued beatings worked, as I still remember this stuff, but my morale didn’t improve).

    There may be advantages to being a US company (although I can’t think of any as I write this; so much for morale), but there are disadvantages, too. Companies must comply with their homeland laws as well as the laws of each country they operate in.

    In this way, every country has a big sphere of influence.

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