49 USC 70105a - Experimental permits

(a) A person may apply to the Secretary of Transportation for an experimental permit under this section in the form and manner the Secretary prescribes. Consistent with the protection of the public health and safety, safety of property, and national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, the Secretary, not later than 120 days after receiving an application pursuant to this section, shall issue a permit if the Secretary decides in writing that the applicant complies, and will continue to comply, with this chapter and regulations prescribed under this chapter. The Secretary shall inform the applicant of any pending issue and action required to resolve the issue if the Secretary has not made a decision not later than 90 days after receiving an application. The Secretary shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives and Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a written notice not later than 15 days after any occurrence when the Secretary has failed to act on a permit within the deadline established by this section.
(b) In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary may establish procedures for safety approvals of launch vehicles, reentry vehicles, safety systems, processes, services, or personnel that may be used in conducting commercial space launch or reentry activities pursuant to a permit.
(c) In order to encourage the development of a commercial space flight industry, the Secretary may when issuing permits use the authority granted under section 70105 (b)(2)(C).
(d) The Secretary may issue a permit only for reusable suborbital rockets that will be launched or reentered solely for

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(1) research and development to test new design concepts, new equipment, or new operating techniques;
(2) showing compliance with requirements as part of the process for obtaining a license under this chapter; or
(3) crew training prior to obtaining a license for a launch or reentry using the design of the rocket for which the permit would be issued.
(e) Permits issued under this section shall
(1) authorize an unlimited number of launches and reentries for a particular suborbital rocket design for the uses described in subsection (d); and
(2) specify the type of modifications that may be made to the suborbital rocket without changing the design to an extent that would invalidate the permit.
(f) Permits shall not be transferable.
(g) A permit may not be issued for, and a permit that has already been issued shall cease to be valid for, a particular design for a reusable suborbital rocket after a license has been issued for the launch or reentry of a rocket of that design.
(h) No person may operate a reusable suborbital rocket under a permit for carrying any property or human being for compensation or hire.
(i) For the purposes of sections 70106, 70107, 70108, 70109, 70110, 70112, 70115, 70116, 70117, and 70121 of this chapter

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(1) a permit shall be considered a license;
(2) the holder of a permit shall be considered a licensee;
(3) a vehicle operating under a permit shall be considered to be licensed; and
(4) the issuance of a permit shall be considered licensing.

This subsection shall not be construed to allow the transfer of a permit.