NAR announces a revised Safety Code for High Power Rocketry

The Board of Trustees of the National Association of Rocketry approved
a new safety code at its March meeting last week. The safety code was
revised to simplify the wording, remove inconsistencies with existing
NFPA codes, and to reflect the changes to the NFPA that were approved
in February by the Pyrotechnics committee, and which we expect to be
routinely adopted by the NFPA as a whole.
The biggest change is the removal of the alternate launch site
dimension table, which required very large launch sites (e.g., three x
three miles for an M motor). Instead, the requirement is that the
minimum dimension of the launch site be half as large as the expected
altitude of the rockets, or 1500 feet, whichever is greater. This will
allow smaller fields to be used for relatively low-flying high-power
rockets. In addition, the requirement that the launch pad be 1/2 the
minimum launch site dimension from the edge of the field has been
changed; the launch pad must now must be the minimum personnel distance
from the edge of the field. This will allow launch pad placement to be
better optimized with respect to the site and the weather conditions at
the time of launch.
Other changes include prohibition against launching high power rockets
on a trajectory over the heads of spectators or beyond the boundaries
of the launch site, prohibitions against flying rockets of undetermined
stability, changes to the minimum distance around the pad cleared of
combustibles, recognition of the need to consider wind speed in
achieving safe launch velocity, and requiring that pyrotechnic charges
and igniters have a means of disconnection from their power source
until the rocket is at the pad. Many of these changes, including the
field size change, were supported by studies carried out by the NAR
Special Committee on Range Operation and Procedure, chaired by NAR
Trustee and former astronaut Dr. Jay Apt, approved by the Trustees last
July and presented to the NFPA in February.
The new safety code is available for download on the NAR web site:
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Watch for additional information about safety in the future issues of
Sport Rocketry and on the NAR web site.
Any feedback or questions can be sent to me at

Ted Cochran
Chair, NAR Safety Committee
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