U.S. Rockets Model Rocket Operation Guidelines
  1. Materials. My model rocket will be made of lightweight
    materials such as paper, wood, rubber, and plastic suitable for the
    power used and the performance of my model rocket. I will not use any
    metal for the nose cone, body, or fins of a model rocket.

  2. Motors. I will use only commercially-manufactured model
    rocket motors in the manner recommended by the manufacturer. I will not
    alter the model rocket motor, its parts, or its ingredients in any way,
    unless expressly permitted and described by the manufacturer.

  3. Recovery. I will always use a recovery system in my model
    rocket that will return it safely to the ground so it may be flown
    again. I will use only flame-resistant recovery wadding if wadding is
    required by the design of my model rocket.

  4. Weight and Power Limits. My model rocket will weigh no more
    than 1,500 grams (3.31 pounds) at lift-off and its rocket motors will
    contain no more than 125 grams (0.276 pounds) of propellant. My model
    rocket will weigh no more than the motor manufacturer¹s recommended
    maximum lift-off weight for the motors used, or I will use motors
    recommended by the manufacturer for my model rocket.

  5. Stability. I will check the stability of my model rocket
    before its first flight, except when launching a model rocket of already
    proven stability.

  6. Payloads. My model rocket will never carry a payload that is
    intended to be destructive and flammable, explosive, or harmful.

  7. Launch Site. I will launch my model rocket outdoors in a
    cleared area, free of tall trees, power lines, buildings, and dry brush
    and grass. My launch area will be at least as wide and long as 1/4 the
    expected altitude of the rocket.

  8. Launcher. I will launch my model rocket from a stable launch
    device that provides rigid guidance until the model rocket has reached a
    speed adequate to ensure a safe flight path. To prevent accidental eye
    injury, I will always place the launcher so the end of the rod is above
    eye level or I will cap the end of the rod when approaching it. I will
    cap or disassemble my launch rod when not in use and I will never store
    it in an upright position below eye level. My launcher will have a jet
    deflector device to prevent the motor exhaust from hitting the ground
    directly. I will always clear the area around my launch device of brown
    grass, dry weeds, or other easy-to-burn materials.

  9. Ignition System. The system I use to launch my model rocket
    will be remotely controlled and electrically operated. It will contain a
    launching switch that will return to "off" when released. The system
    will contain a removable safety interlock in series with the launch
    switch or a removeable plug on the wire to the launch pad. I will use
    only electrical igniters recommended by the motor manufacturer. All
    persons will remain at a distance from the high power rocket and
    launcher as determined by the total impulse of the installed rocket
    motor(s) according to the accompanying Launch Distance Guidelines

  10. Launch Safety. I will ensure that people in the launch area
    are aware of the pending model rocket launch and can see the model
    rocket's lift-off before I begin my audible five-second countdown. I
    will not launch my model rocket so its flight path will carry it against
    a target. If my model rocket suffers a misfire, I will not allow anyone
    to approach it or the launcher until I have made certain that the safety
    interlock has been removed or that the battery has been disconnected
    from the ignition system. I will wait one minute after a misfire before
    allowing anyone to approach the launcher.

  11. Flying Conditions. I will launch my model rocket only when
    the wind is less than 20 miles per hour. I will not launch my model
    rocket so it flies into clouds, near aircraft in flight, or in a manner
    that is hazardous to people or property.

  12. Pre-Launch Test. When conducting research activities with
    unproven model rocket designs or methods I will, when possible,
    determine the reliability of my model rocket by pre-launch tests. I will
    conduct the launching of an unproven design in complete isolation from
    persons not participating in the actual launching.

  13. Launch Angle. My launch device will be pointed within 30
    degrees of vertical. I will never use model rocket motors to propel any
    device horizontally.

  14. Recovery Hazards. If a model rocket becomes entangled in a
    power line or other dangerous place, I will not attempt to retrieve it.
    In practice, this is the most critical safety guideline.

  15. Airspace. If a model rocket exceeds 453g (1.0 pound) liftoff
    weight, I will notify the FAA district office of the time and place of my
    operations by phone or fax (NOTAM).

Installed Total
Impulse (N-sec)
Motor Type
Minimum Distance
to launch pad
0.00--5.00 micro-B 5 feet
5.01-40.01 C-E 15 feet
40.01-320 F-H 30 feet

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