Companies in the commercial space industry are developing a new generation of reusable launch vehicles (RLV). The Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) is working on creating a new generation of technicians, the RLV Aerospace Maintenance Technician (RAMT), who is capable of maintaining these new vehicles. However, the FAA/AST does not yet know the knowledge required of this technician in order to maintain this new vehicle type. This exploratory, qualitative study examined the subject area knowledge required of reusable launch vehicle technicians in the United States’ sub-orbital commercial space industry. The study sought to answer the question, “What are important subject areas for the training of RLV technicians?” This was accomplished by interviewing subject matter experts from the companies developing sub-orbital RLVs over the telephone. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and then analyzed for common themes using Strauss and Corbin’s Grounded Theory, qualitative content analysis, and cross case analysis. This study found that important subject areas for the training of RLV technicians include: Rocket Propulsion, Aviation Maintenance, Electronics/Electrical Systems, Mechanical Systems, Engineering, Project Management, and Aerodynamics. Recommendations are made to develop an RLV curriculum based on these subject areas as a supplemental area of study for aviation maintenance training programs.


Reusable Launch Vehicle, RLV, commercial space, technician, maintenance, space tourism, operations, suborbital, mechanic, aerospace

Date of this Version



Aviation Technology

Department Head

Dr. Brent Bowen

Month of Graduation


Year of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. Richard Fanjoy

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

David Stanley

Committee Member 1

David Stanley

Committee Member 2

Denver Lopp

Committee Member 3

Timothy Ropp