Photo by John Kraus

By Tom Marotta, Principal Launch Licensing Manager

Today, we’re proud to announce that Astra is the first company to receive a Part 450 license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Our ELaNa41 mission for NASA (and first launch out of Cape Canaveral) will be conducted under this license.  

Part 450
Part 450 is a launch licensing structure for commercial space flight launch and reentry operations that consolidates Parts 415, 417, 431 and 435 under a single licensing regime. The FAA introduced Part 450 from a directive of the National Space Council to encourage American leadership in space commerce. 

Part 450 is performance-based, allowing for a higher launch cadence and greater regulatory flexibility. Under previous licenses, an operator typically had to wait years before receiving authorization to conduct multiple launches. Now, an operator can apply for and receive a single authorization to conduct multiple launches of the same vehicle or a family of vehicles. 

Responsive Launch, Schedule Availability and Lower Cost
Part 450 licenses can be modified to add additional sites, saving the time and expense of applying for a new license as Astra expands its rocket and spaceport fleet. This same cost efficiency is realized on a per-mission basis, with streamlined regulatory compliance for each subsequent flight under Part 450. 

Thanks to advancements in technology, space is now accessible to the private sector in ways that it never has been before, enabling a new generation of entrepreneurs. The revolution happening in the space industry is akin to the birth of the internet – tens of thousands of satellites are planned to be built and launched in the coming decade.  The new Part 450 rule was introduced to support greater innovation and help lay the foundation for the FAA to keep pace with the dramatic increase in the cadence and complexity of commercial space transportation operations. 

Industry-wide Benefits: Enabling Rapid Iteration and Innovation
The rapidly growing commercial space industry is developing some of the most advanced technology in the world, and is a key strategic and economic differentiator for our country. Flexibility is critical to the commercial space industry—and especially to Astra, as we work towards our goal of daily launches. Astra applauds the FAA for taking steps to introduce more flexibility with Part 450, paving the path to greater innovations in spaceflight.  

Expanding Access to Space
Astra is proud to be the first company to receive a Part 450 license, and we plan to continue leveraging the full potential of Part 450’s flexibility. Our existing license can be modified to add more launch sites, along with new launch vehicles. Additionally, we intend to work closely with the FAA to further streamline per-mission compliance activities as we work towards daily space delivery. 

Massively expanding access to orbit is essential for Astra to fulfill its ongoing mission of improving life on Earth from space. Part 450 is a critical step on the path to that goal. 

Note: Astra also holds a Part 417 license to conduct launches from Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska on Kodiak Island through 2026. FAA considers Astra’s Kodiak launches as legacy operations which will be allowed to continue under Part 417.

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