I've never quite understood the rationale behind having motors
decertified for sport use, and I'd appreciate it if folks (especially
those who may have been involved in some of the decisions over the
years) could contribute comments about it.
As I understand it, if a manufacturer stops making a certain motor than
after time period 'A' that motor becomes decertified for contest use.
After time period 'B' (where 'B' is greater than 'A'), the motor becomes
decertified for sport use at sanctioned launches.
Now, I can sorta/kinda understand the rationale behind the contest use
decertification, because the INTENT (as best I interpret it) is to
ensure that only motors available to everyone can be used in a contest,
so that an individual can't "cheat" by using a motor that is not
available to the general public in order to win the contest. There is a
fallacy in this argument, of course -- witness the Apogee Medalist
motors. I've never used them, but just purchased my first batch, and
folks indicated that one reason they are so pricey is that they are
generally used for contests. I ordered some within a few days of the
'quiet' announcement that they were again available, and even then, some
sizes were already sold out. So, for motors that are produced in
limited runs, or only sporadically, just because a motor is certified
doesn't make it generally available. Another example is what happened
with the AeroTech fire -- for motors that they had just certified (but
where there were only a few in the pipeline), the limited number of
motors then available would have become suddenly 'premium' motors for
contest use. So, the limitation for contest use has a good intent, but
has some inherent problems -- but I'd have to suggest that the current
system is probably the best 'common sense' solution to the (real or
However, IMHO, it doesn't make sense that I can use an A8-3 made in the
60's, but I can't use an A10-0T from the 90's. The manufacturer is
still in business, so the argument that protecting users against a
defunct manufacturer is moot. The motors were never recalled by the
manufacturer, so there is no known safety problem. To the best of my
knowledge, there were never any large numbers of MESS reports filed
against the A10-0T, so they were never decertified due to discovering
any safety problems. Furthermore, the manufacturer's warranty on motors
had long since expired prior to the certifications expiring, so
attempting to protect the end-user against a defunct manufacturer for
warranty purposes is moot for that reason. And lastly, the argument
that age of motors creates a safety issue is moot -- for two reasons.
First, we all know (and it's even in the Level 2 test) that damage to BP
motors is caused by temperature cycling, not age, and second, if it were
true, then we wouldn't be "allowed" to launch decades-old motors that
are still being manufactured (even though, interestingly enough, said
motors may have had casing, nozzle, clay, and ejection charge changes
over time in the manufacturing process).
So, after all that is said, I've got two questions:
1. Is there a good argument for having motors decertified for sport use
when they're no longer made?
2. How would you word a request for change?
Here's my submittal for number 2:
"Motors will not be allowed to be used for sport use if the manufacturer
recalls the motor, or if the NAR decertifies the motor for cause (i.e.,
an inordinant number of MESS reports)."
- posted 17 years ago