Rocketry and the New FAA Rules

faa-logo

The Federal Aviation Administration in their new “Requirements for Amateur Rocket Activities Final Rule, December 4, 2008” have revised the rules that govern amateur rocketry in the US. Amateur does not refer to the person, it refers to the rocket and these rules apply to model hobbyist as well as rocket professionals.

Let’s first look at what the FAA defines as an amateur rocket.  Let’s compare:

Old Rules

Model Rockets:
• Uses no more than 4 ounces (113.5 grams) of propellant
• Uses a slow-burning propellant
• Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic
• Contains no substantial metal parts
• Weighs no more than 454 grams (16 ounces), including the pro-
pellant.
Large Model Rockets:
• Uses no more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant.
• Uses a slow-burning propellant.
• Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic.
• Contains no substantial metal parts.
• Weighs no more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) including propel-
lant.
Other:
• Undefined—every unmanned rocket other than a model or large
model rocket.

New Rules

Class  1—Model Rockets:
•  Uses no more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant.
•  Uses a slow-burning propellant.
•  Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic.
•  Contains no substantial metal parts.
•  Weighs no more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) including propel-
lant.
Class 2—High-Power Rockets:
• A rocket other than a Class 1, propelled by a rocket motor or
motors having a combined total impulse of 40,960 N-sec (9,208
lb-sec) or less.
Class 3—Advanced High-Power Rockets:
• Any amateur rocket other than a Class 1 or 2.
Other:
• Any unmanned rocket that is not an amateur rocket.

Other items in Ruling

• Definition of classes for amateur
   rockets;
• Prohibition of amateur rocket
   activities within 5 miles of an airport;
• Separation distances from amateur
   rocket activities and participants, and
   persons or property not associated with
   the activities;
• Need for the presence of someone at
   least 18 years old;
• Need to take measures to control
   any fire caused by amateur rocket
   activities;
• Specific information and notice
   requirements.

Read more by viewing the official FAA document

faa

UPDATE: Great Bloomberg article

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2 Responses to Rocketry and the New FAA Rules

  1. jtormey3 says:

    Do You Speak EEL?: Translating FAA Bobby Sturgell – PART III
    http://ejectsturgell.blogspot.com/2008/11/do-you-speak-eel-translating-faa-bobby_30.html
    Exiting FAA Acting Administrator Bobby Sturgell: “You’ll notice I’m throwing lots of new runways, equipment, money, acronyms, programs, kudos, and concocted self-serving study “results” at communities right before I get chucked out of office. That’s on purpose. Those are called ‘bribes’. They are intended to buy the silence and cooperation of those that receive them. Others, I’ll abuse. For fun, I once again will try to blame Air Traffic Controllers, pilots, Congress, co-workers, community residents, Israel, India, the Philippines, potash miners, unions, Mother Nature, and even my economic co-conspirators the airlines on my way out the door, for all of my own failures. The remaining other folks, well, I’ll just tell FAA ‘Safety Officer’ Nick Sabatini to intimidate. My best strategy is comprised of the bribes, though. This provides me job security in the private sector for years to come, and might make everybody forget those 3,500-and-climbing aviation fatalities that occurred on my FAA watch”.
    http://indictsturgell.blogspot.com/2008/10/failed-faa-pilot-bobby-sturgell-racks.html

    http://www.bobbysturgell.net

  2. I think these are good rules. The High power limit of one O motor is not really in agreement with the high power rule, however! The high power limit is two O motors, not any single motor more than O impulse. So this means any O to M or O to N two stage rocket, or any two O cluster rocket, even an O and two K1100 outboards, would be hobby under Tripoli – NAR regs… but would be amateur to the FAA. Not a huge problem, but confusing why they chose to lower it a notch.

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