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Notice: For clarity, not all amateur projects are off topic, just those that represent intent to perform work matching the bulleted list below.

Why are questions about my personal amateur space project off topic? I want to ask a question about

  • Building a rocket engine to launch myself or some other cargo into orbit
  • Developing/storing a fuel for my rocket
  • Any other type of life-threatening amateur work in or around space exploration (i.e. sending yourself to the moon or Mars)
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  • $\begingroup$ I saw a topic where someone asked about mixing rocket fuel for an amateur project and somebody explained the basics of how to manufacture hypergolic propellant and store it... The guy could easily kill himself with that knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Jul 17 '18 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ was this intended to be so broad as to capture space.stackexchange.com/questions/30570/… ? $\endgroup$ – JCRM Sep 9 '18 at 15:05
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Advice about dangerous personal amateur projects is off-topic

Understand that space exploration is inherently dangerous. While there are some foolhardy people who have done amateur work in this area, the Space.SE community has decided that we will not help people engaged in amateur endeavors to get into low orbit and/or space--at least where it concerns engine development, fuel storage or development, or any other life-threatening activity.

Building a successful space project is hard

SpaceX pad explosion, Sept, 2016

That's a rocket blowing up on the pad. That was in 2016, and from a professional company. Space programs don't just happen. They often involve some of the best and brightest minds in the world putting everything humanity knows about rockets and space flight to work. And those programs are still littered with failures.

We don't believe this work can be done safely by amateurs

A lot of stuff involved is not just dangerous for you, but anyone near you as well. Rocket fuel can cause large explosions which is why manufacturing and testing is done in remote areas. If something goes wrong, it limits damage and casualties. The same goes for rocket launches. If your launch vehicle fails, it will cause a lot of damage wherever it crashes.

There's legal considerations as well

In the United States, the FAA regulates launches and the FCC regulates satellites. In addition, it may be illegal to discuss

[For people in the United States], discussing specific engineering details of rockets and launch vehicles in a forum that can be accessed by non-US persons is illegal, as it runs afoul of ITAR restrictions (specifically ITAR part 121, Category IV (a) (1-2)). This restriction applies whether or not the person discussing is a professional. Broad, textbook-level discussion of launch vehicle engineering is okay, but sharing detailed engineering knowledge gets into murky legal territory.

There is an exclusion for "model and high power rockets ... made of paper, wood, fiberglass, or plastic containing no substantial metal parts and designed to be flown with hobby rocket motors that are certified for consumer use" (emphasis added). Homebrew rocket motors and the design thereof already is subject to ITAR, and US persons discussing them in open forums do so at their own legal risk.

There may be other local/state/country authorities (depending on where you are in the world) that you will need approval of to even attempt a launch. Space.SE is not a place to ask legal or regulatory questions.

Leave it to the pros

It's hard to believe that the commercial space industry is less than 20 years old and commercially available flights into orbit may soon come to fruition. But this work is still very dangerous. Let the pros handle things.

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    $\begingroup$ Also worth pointing out that (for US persons at least), discussing specific engineering details of rockets and launch vehicles in a forum that can be accessed by non-US persons is illegal, as it runs afoul of ITAR restrictions (specifically ITAR part 121, Category IV (a) (1-2). This restriction applies whether or not the person discussing is a professional. Broad, textbook-level discussion of launch vehicle engineering is okay, but sharing detailed engineering knowledge gets into murky legal territory. $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jul 18 '18 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Because I ran out of room, Note 3 of ITAR part 121, Category IV (a) has a specific exclusion for "model and high power rockets ... made of paper, wood, fiberglass, or plastic containing no substantial metal parts and designed to be flown with hobby rocket motors that are certified for consumer use" (emphasis added). Homebrew rocket motors and the design thereof already is subject to ITAR, and US persons discussing them in open forums do so at their own legal risk. $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jul 18 '18 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ I'm fine if you want to incorporate my comments into the answer under the legal considerations heading, if only to keep everything coalesced into a single writeup rather than competing answers :-) $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jul 18 '18 at 19:25
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    $\begingroup$ I've added it with a link to that section $\endgroup$ – Machavity Jul 18 '18 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I was half expecting the "rocket fuel can cause large explosions" part to link to this explosion. $\endgroup$ – Sean Mar 30 at 20:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean The previous link died so I replaced it with yours $\endgroup$ – Machavity Mar 30 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ technically a "fast fire" (we're told) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 31 at 2:20
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Machavity is spot-on. I would add one more point:

Even if you are an authorized and responsible person, there are other people out there who are not

Even if it were somehow okay for us to discuss these matters with the specific person asking the question, keep in mind that this site is readable by the public. We don't want some 13-year-old to try something dangerous that they found here. That's why we won't make exceptions.

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protected by called2voyage Aug 13 '18 at 18:15

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