Consequential amendments to Subpart 101.H - Rockets - (CD 1920SS)

Closed 28 Aug 2020

Opened 30 Jul 2020

Feedback Updated 2 Oct 2020

We Asked

From 30 July to 28 August 2020 we invited public comment on consequential amendments to Subpart 101.H - Rockets.

This consultation proposed changes to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR), primarily to:

  • ensure the definition of 'high power rocket' in regulation 101.425 of CASR does not overlap with the definition of 'high power rocket' in section 5 of the Space (Launches and Returns) (High Power Rocket) Rules 2019, which commenced on 30 June 2020
  • clarify the existing regulatory framework by amending a small number of relevant provisions to enable CASA to continue regulating model rockets and rockets which are not high power rockets
  • ensure that launch of high power rockets and the launch of space objects using rockets may only be undertaken in an approved area.

You Said

Six submissions were received from six respondents. All respondents supported the draft amendment, five without changes (83 per cent of respondents), one (17 per cent of respondents) with suggested changes.

None of the suggested changes were related to the specific intent of the draft regulations which was to align CASA regulations with the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 The two suggestions were to:

(1)  change to the draft amendment to require CASA to interact with ASA

(2)  amend the Airspace Act 2007 to provide rockertry applications higher      priority when the Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) assesses equitable acces to airspace.


For the first proposal one respondent suggested:

"If the intention is that CASA and the ASA are in constant communication during at least a partial phase of the ASA launch permit assessment process this is not in the Act, nor in the Rules, and the legislation should be amended to reflect that."

CASA proposes that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two agencies is a better mechanism to achieve the outcome the respondent requests. This will facilitate timely communication and business process interactions between the agencies on these matters.

For the second proposal the same respondent also noted that additional changes to aviation legislation is required, in this case, to adjust the priority given to rocketry operations access to airspace under the Airspace Act 2007:

"…to give equal priority to space activities as to other aviation and ADF activities."

CASA notes that the current Australian Airspace Policy Statement 2018 

<> specifically mentions, in clause 8 of the statement, that " the administration of Australian-administered airspace shall consider the current and future needs of the Australian aviation industry, which includes civil and military aviation; as well as shall consider cost implications for all airspace users, and shall be in the best interests of Australia."

No other comments suggested any change to the draft amendment. However, extensive feedback was received in relation to non-legislative matters. To ensure clarity to industry, major concerns emerging from this additional feedback is addressed below.

Timelines for approval from CASA and ASA

Four of the six respondents were concerned with the time it may take to achieve approval from two regulators (CASA and ASA). The majority of the respondents were concerned that the process would be serialised in fashion, first with the ASA approving the risk to people and property (ground risk), before CASA would subsequently be consulted and then secondly approve the risk to other aviation stakeholders (air risk). Both agencies are committed to ensuring as smooth a process as possible and propose to enter into an MoU to address such matters.

In addition, it is not envisaged by CASA that the process will be serialised as this does not consider the trade space between an appropriate airspace volume and ground area and the required discussions with both CASA and ASA to ensure compliance with both regulatory frameworks. As described by one consultation respondent:

"The process to obtain a High Power Rocket permit or Launch permit is extremely detailed and requires substantial effort to develop the various plans (Program Management, Operations, Environmental, Technology Security, etc.) as well as the Risk Hazard Analysis, to assess the ground based risk. There is absolutely no point in the launch provider initiating this process unless they know that they have a reasonable chance of obtaining a CASA Area Approval for their proposed launches and flight paths."

Use of the Term amateur rocket

Two respondents raised issue with the term amateur rocket used for rockets that are:

  • not a model rocket
  • not a High Power Rocket as defined by the Space (Launches and Returns) (High Power Rocket) Rules 2020.

We Did

Timelines for approval from CASA and ASA

CASA agrees it will be important for it to be part of early engagement with an applicant, facilitated by the ASA as entry control regulator for high power rockets and space objects. CASA is engaging with the ASA on these matters to establish early discussion processes between the applicant and both agencies to ensure that all parties are aware of the considerations CASA must apply as part of its regulatory approval (that is, an area approval under Part 101 of CASR).

Use of the Term amateur rocket

CASA understands that this term can cause confusion as it implies a non-business aspect to the activity. CASA would first note that this term is not a defined term in the regulations, as these rockets are defined by exception, rather than inclusion and as such there is no requirement for area approvals to specifically mention this term. To provide some additional context on the intended use of this term, CASA was seeking to reflect the United States definition of amateur rocket as defined under Subsection 1.1 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations:

Amateur rocket means an unmanned rocket that:

(1) Is propelled by a motor or motors having a combined total impulse of 889,600 Newton-seconds (200,000 pound-seconds) or less; and

(2) Cannot reach an altitude greater than 150 kilometers (93.2 statute miles) above the earth's surface.

However, given the feedback received, CASA will instead consider adopting the term medium power rocket when describing the rockets within Grouping C as defined in the Summary of Proposed Consultation.

In the longer term, CASA considers an MoU describing interagency processes is the most appropriate way to ensure that an applicant, CASA and the ASA, are aware of their obligations under such an MoU, and that the process is transparent. Likewise, in the course of their industry engagement, CASA has raised this issue for the ASA's consideration. However, in the shorter term, CASA will work with the ASA using interim ad-hoc processes, which will provide important process learnings and feedback, to ensure near term applications are not unnecessarily delayed.

Next steps

Due to the nature of the comments which are overwhelmingly supportive of the amendments being made, there will be no further changes to the draft amendment. The comments provided will be used by CASA in formulating its partnership with the ASA in future, particularly with respect to the timing of approvals.


The purpose of the proposed consequential amendments Civil Aviation Safety Amendment (Part 101 - High Power Rockets) Regulations 2020, is to align Part 101 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) with the Australian Space Agency’s (ASA) legislative framework for high power rockets, and to transfer certain responsibilities for oversighting regulatory risk of high power rockets to the ASA. The focus of these amendments is to support the High Power Rocket (HPR) Rules (which commenced on 30 June 2020), update the cross‑references to "high power rocket" (the definition of which is located in the ASA's legislation) and remove overlap of offences which are otherwise dealt with in the ASA's legislation.

The ASA’s definition of launch in section 8 of the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 (SLRA) is:

Table 1 – Definition of launch (SLRA)

From 30 June 2020, the ASA’s definition of high power rocket in section 5 of the HPR Rules states:

Table 2 – Definition of high power rocket (HPR Rules)

An important principle which flows through the ASA's legislation and these proposed amendments is consideration of the concepts of "air risk" and "ground risk". Implementing the ASA's oversight of high power rocket activities, consistent with CASA's existing regulatory responsibilities in relation to aviation safety, means that in terms of a regulatory approval timeline, the ASA is the "entry control" regulator for all high power rocket activities. Once an applicant has applied to the ASA for a high power rocket permit and has been granted the permit, the next step would be for the applicant to apply to CASA for an area approval to conduct launch. Accordingly, the applicant would be required to apply to two separate regulators in succession since there are separate pieces of legislation administered by two regulatory agencies. CASA and the ASA will collaborate closely on any regulatory approvals required and share information to ensure applications and regulatory issues are considered in a streamlined manner.

Please see Table 3 in the fact bank below for more detailed information on the proposed consequential amendments to Subpart 101.H - Rockets.

More Information

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Impact on industry

There is no substantive policy change in CASA's proposed amendments. The changes are consequential in nature and flow from government legislation in 2019.

To complement the ASA's legislative requirements for persons who hold existing CASA area approvals (under regulation 101.030) for the launch of rockets, CASA proposes to:

  • impose a general condition on all existing area approvals granted for the purposes of regulation 101.450 of CASR, to require launches of high power rockets (within the meaning of the SLRA) to hold a high power rocket permit granted by the ASA; or
  • amend each individual existing area approval granted for the purposes of regulation 101.450 of CASR, to clarify that the approval would only apply to rockets other than high power rockets.

Going forward, as part of CASA's assessment for grant of an area approval, CASA will consider requiring applicants, where the rocket is a high power rocket as defined by the SLRA, to first secure an HPR permit from the ASA to undertake that launch. This ensures:

  • administrative simplicity for industry to first approach the ASA as the entry controlling regulator, on matters regarding oversight of high power rockets and
  • administrative continuity in relation to CASA's subsequent regulatory role on airspace deconfliction and oversight of risks to air navigation when the high power rocket is operationally prepared for launch. 

Please read the Summary of proposed change (SPC) on CD 1920SS for more detail on this subject.

Why We Are Consulting

CASA recognises the valuable contribution that community and industry consultation make to the regulatory development process. We are consulting to ensure that the proposed new rules are clearly articulated and will work in practice and as they are intended.

All documents related to this consultation are attached at the bottom of the page. They are:

Please read the Summary of proposed change before providing your feedback in the online survey.

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Using an iPad

If you are using an iPad to complete the survey you will be asked to 'download the relevant PDF'. Depending on the software you have on your iPad you may need to download the free viewer to review the single document PDF files. Where a file is a 'multi-file or portfolio PDF’ you will need to source the Adobe free view - available from iTunes. 

Information about how we consult and how to make a confidential submission is available on the CASA website.

To be notified of any future consultations, you can subscribe to our consultation and rulemaking mailing list.

What Happens Next

At the end of the response period for public comment, we will review each comment and submission received. We will make all submissions publicly available on the CASA website, unless you request your submission remain confidential. We will also publish a Summary of Consultation which summarises the feedback received, outlines any intended changes and details our plans for the instrument.

Information about how we consult and how to make a confidential submission is available on the CASA website.

To be notified of any future consultations, you can subscribe to our consultation and rulemaking mailing list.


  • Rocketry Participants
  • High Power Rocket Operator
  • Rocketry Organisation
  • Rocketry Organisation Member


  • Model rocket enthusiast/operator
  • Rocketry