Launch means to place or try to place a launch vehicle or reentry vehicle and any payload from Earth in a suborbital trajectory, in Earth orbit in outer space, or otherwise in outer space, and includes preparing a launch vehicle for flight at a launch site in the United States. Launch includes the flight of a launch vehicle and includes pre- and post-flight ground operations as follows:
(1) Beginning of launch.
(i) Under a license, launch begins with the arrival of a launch vehicle or payload at a U.S. launch site.
(ii) Under a permit, launch begins when any pre-flight ground operation at a U.S. launch site meets all of the following criteria:
(A) Is closely proximate in time to flight,
(B) Entails critical steps preparatory to initiating flight,
(C) Is unique to space launch, and
(D) Is inherently so hazardous as to warrant the FAA's regulatory oversight.
(2) End of launch.
(i) For launch of an orbital expendable launch vehicle (ELV), launch ends after the licensee's last exercise of control over its launch vehicle.
(ii) For launch of an orbital reusable launch vehicle (RLV) with a payload, launch ends after deployment of the payload. For any other orbital RLV, launch ends upon completion of the first sustained, steady-state orbit of an RLV at its intended location.
(iii) For a suborbital ELV or RLV launch, launch ends after reaching apogee if the flight includes a reentry, or otherwise after vehicle landing or impact on Earth, and after activities necessary to return the vehicle to a safe condition on the ground.