U.S. Rockets Model Rocket Operation Guidelines
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stability. I will check the stability of my model rocket
before its first flight, except when launching a model rocket of already
- Payloads. My model rocket will never carry a payload that is
intended to be destructive and flammable, explosive, or harmful.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Launch Angle. My launch device will be pointed within 30
degrees of vertical. I will never use model rocket motors to propel any
- 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.
- 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).
LAUNCH DISTANCE GUIDELINES
to launch pad
Use back button.