Latest News

US State Department: Thrusters Cannot be Considered Rocket Engines

By | October 8, 2018
NASA ion Thruster

NASA’s Deep Space 1 with NSTAR ion thruster. Photo: NASA

The U.S. State Department has revised its classification rules for spacecraft and spacecraft thrusters, clarifying that they cannot be considered rocket engines. The Department removed notification requirements from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and revised several entries on the United States Munitions List, to remove items that do not warrant continued inclusion.

The Department received feedback from industry, as companies were unsure as to how to classify certain satellites and spacecraft thrusters. Some manufacturers reclassified satellites and spacecraft thrusters as rocket engines. Some manufacturers reclassified these same, or similar, thrusters as subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Thrusters for satellites and spacecraft may meet certain USML Category IV(d) controls, such as based on total impulse, but such thrusters cannot be considered rocket or missile power plants. The Department clarified that it does not control such thrusters.

These new categories took effect on October 4.