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Model Rocket Safety

When model rockets began to become popular in the late 50's and early 60's many were experiencing injuries through unsafe practices. Harry Stines and Orville Carlisle, many consider the fathers of modern rocketry, decided it was time to implement safety regulations when using model rockets. The two had noticed simple mistakes people were making when launching and building their rockets, and knew a simple set of rules could keep everyone much more safe. The following are a few of the guidelines the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) suggests everyone follows.

  • Materials  The use of lightweight, non-metal parts for the body, nose, and fins of the rocket are required.
  • Motors - It is necessary to use only certified, commercially-made rocket motors and it is vital that no one tampers with the motors.
  • Ignition System - An electrical launch system is the only type to be used along with electrical motor igniters. The launch system will have a safety interlock in series with the launch switch and the launch switch will return to "off" when released.
  • Misfires - If a model rocket does not fire it is important to remove the launcher's safety interlock or disconnect the battery, and not allow anyone near the rocket for 60 seconds.
  • Launch Safety - A countdown will be used before firing any rocket and everyone in the vicinity will know a rocket is about to be launched.
  • Launcher - To make sure the rocket will fly upward use a rod, tower, or rail that is pointed straight up. A blast reflector is used to prevent the motor's exhaust from making any contact with the ground.
  • Size - The size of the rocket may not weigh more that 53 ounces, no more than 4.4 ounces of propellant, or 320 N-sec of total impulse.
  • Flight Safety - DO NOT launch rockets at targets, into clouds or near airplanes.
  • Launch Site - Model rockets are only to be launched outdoors, in open areas, in good weather conditions and not near any dry grass.
  • Recovery System - Make sure to use a parachute or streamer to insure the a safe return to earth.
  • Recovery Safety - DO NOT attempt to retrieve any rockets from tall trees, power lines or other dangerous places.

Following the installation of the NAR model rocket safety code the hobby has been considered one of the safest. With the continued safety practices being established the hobby of model rocket building and launching will continue to grow.

To view the complete model rocket safety code please visit

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