Model Rocket Safety Code

Model rocketry is a safe and widespread hobby provided the safety codes are followed. But it is not without risks; the following safety code and safety measures are the primary means of mitigating those risks.

Get familiar with NAR safety code (below) and additional safety measures. We urge you to observe and when prudent, exceed the recommendations every time you fly.

  • Prepare the recovery system with due care to assure that it will properly deploy.
  • Do preflight inspections of every rocket. Be especially careful with complex rockets. Pay special attention to the recovery system.
  • Add to the safe distance standards when lots of observers are present
  • Model rocket must be launched from a stable platform. Make sure launch controllers and ignition methods are appropriate for the motor(s) being used. To protect yourself and others from eye injury, position the launch rod or rail so that the upper end is above eye level, or else place a large guard on the upper end between launches.
  • Tilt your launch guides away from people: plan to have good flights, but also plan for bad flights to end in safe places. If rockets are flying over spectators, stop and fix the problem.
  • Use the following table to determine minimum launch site dimensions and safe distance to the rocket:

    Installed Total Impulse (N-sec) Equivalent Motor Type Minimum Site Dimensions (ft.) Minimum Safe distance to the Rocket (ft.)
    0.00--1.251/4A, 1/2A 50 15
    1.26--2.50A 10015
    2.51--5.00B 20015
    5.01--10.00C 40015
    10.01--20.00D 50015
    20.01--40.00E 1,00030
    40.01--80.00F 1,00030
    80.01--160.00G 1,00040

    NAR Rocketry Safety Code.

    Model rocketry is a safe and widespread hobby, but it requires us to follow simple guidelenes to keep it as such. Below is the Safety Code of the National Association of Rocketry for low to mid-powered launches.

    Effective August 2012

    1. Materials. I will use only lightweight, non-metal parts for the nose, body, and fins of my rocket.

    2. Motors. I will use only certified, commercially-made model rocket motors, and will not tamper with these motors or use them for any purposes except those recommended by the manufacturer.

    3. Ignition System. I will launch my rockets with an electrical launch system and electrical motor igniters. My launch system will have a safety interlock in series with the launch switch, and will use a launch switch that returns to the "off" position when released.

    4. Misfires. If my rocket does not launch when I press the button of my electrical launch system, I will remove the launcher's safety interlock or disconnect its battery, and will wait 60 seconds after the last launch attempt before allowing anyone to approach the rocket.

    5. Launch Safety. I will use a countdown before launch, and will ensure that everyone is paying attention and is a safe distance of at least 15 feet away when I launch rockets with D motors or smaller, and 30 feet when I launch larger rockets. If I am uncertain about the safety or stability of an untested rocket, I will check the stability before flight and will fly it only after warning spectators and clearing them away to a safe distance. When conducting a simultaneous launch of more than ten rockets I will observe a safe distance of 1.5 times the maximum expected altitude of any launched rocket.

    6. Launcher. I will launch my rocket from a launch rod, tower, or rail that is pointed to within 30 degrees of the vertical to ensure that the rocket flies nearly straight up, and I will use a blast deflector to prevent the motor's exhaust from hitting the ground. To prevent accidental eye injury, I will place launchers so that the end of the launch rod is above eye level or will cap the end of the rod when it is not in use.

    7. Size. My model rocket will not weigh more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) at liftoff and will not contain more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant or 320 N-sec (71.9 pound-seconds) of total impulse.

    8. Flight Safety. I will not launch my rocket at targets, into clouds, or near airplanes, and will not put any flammable or explosive payload in my rocket.

    9. Launch Site. I will launch my rocket outdoors, in an open area at least as large as shown in the accompanying table, and in safe weather conditions with wind speeds no greater than 20 miles per hour. I will ensure that there is no dry grass close to the launch pad, and that the launch site does not present risk of grass fires.

    10. Recovery System. I will use a recovery system such as a streamer or parachute in my rocket so that it returns safely and undamaged and can be flown again, and I will use only flame-resistant or fireproof recovery system wadding in my rocket.

    11. Recovery Safety. I will not attempt to recover my rocket from power lines, tall trees, or other dangerous places.

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