High-powered rocket

High-power rocketry is a hobby similar to model rocketry, with the major difference being that higher impulse range motors are used. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) definition of a high-power rocket is one which has a total weight of more than 1500 grams and contains a motor or motors containing more than 62.5 grams of propellant or more than 160 Newton-seconds .


High-power rockets are defined as rockets flown using commercially-available motors ranging from H to O class. While NFPA1122 dictates guidelines for model rocketry, NFPA1127 is specific to high-power rockets.


The Tripoli Rocketry Association and the National Association of Rocketry are the major sanctioning bodies for the hobby in the USA, providing member certifications, and criteria for general safety guidelines.

In most other countries, where HPR is supported, the regulations are very similar to the TRA and the NAR.

In Canada the Canadian Association of Rocketry is appointed as regulator for the hobby.

In South Africa the controlling body for Rocketry is SAASA. SAASA is an acronym for South African Amateur Space Administration.

The United Kingdom Rocketry Association or UKRA has been featured on BBC's Top Gear.


Unlike model rocketry, certification is required by the governing organizations in order for individuals to fly high powered rockets. The certification system is standardized across the hobby and governing organizations. There are three levels of certification, each allowing the user to fly successively larger motors.

Level 1: H-I

Level 2: J-L

Level 3: M+

In order to gain certification an individual needs to demonstrate his ability to fly a rocket within the given power range of the level he is seeking successfully. For example, if an individual desires to gain a Level 1 certification he must successfully fly a H-I motor in an appropriately sized rocket. This is also true for Level 2 and 3 certification with the added requirements that, for Level 2 a test be successfully passed and for Level 3 the build be documented and overseen by an individual that is already of Level 3 certification. These requirements vary slightly between NAR and Tripoli, but are very close in both organizations.


High-power rocket designs can vary widely as do anticipated altitudes and performance but altitudes of 10,000' and velocities in the supersonic ranges are not uncommon. A combination of (often) larger mass and higher apogees may require sophisticated recovery systems. High-power rockets are frequently flown with sophisticated electronic devices used for recording flight data (altitude, velocity, acceleration/deceleration, G-forces) and for deploying recovery methods or devices.

High-power rockets are constructed from materials such as phenolic resin, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and other composite materials and plastics. Motor casings are normally machined aluminium with ablative phenolic or paper liners and are reloadable, i.e. can be used multiple times.


High-power rockets are predominantly powered by commercially-available APCP-based motors or nitrous oxide-based hybrid motors. Experimental Propulsion is also the source of propulsion for many high-powered rockets.

Motors for High-Powered Rocketry are "H" and above. The lettered naming system is a standard in the hobby in which successive letters double the delivered power of the previous letter. Each letter also has a range of impulses under which a given motor can be classified.


In model rocketry, a parachute, streamer or other recovery device or method deploys at apogee, but high-power rockets may employ more complex recovery systems since altitudes can be much higher than their counterparts. In a high-power rocket, an altimeter or electronic timer may deploy a drogue parachute (which stablizes the rocket in descent) or a controlled freefall (where the fore and aft sections are merely separated by a tether or umbilical cord, often made of tubular nylon). These recovery events can be brought about by small explosive charges (black powder or Pyrodex) or pressurized gasses (e.g. CO2). At an altitude predetermined by the hobbyist, an altimeter deploys a main parachute which slows the rocket to a safe recovery speed. The most common varieties of altimeter use accelerometers, barometric sensors or a combination of both.

External links

* [http://www.tripoli.org Tripoli Rocketry Association]
* [http://www.nar.org National Association of Rocketry]
* [http://www.canadianrocketry.org Canadian Association of Rocketry]
* [http://www.rocketry.co.za Rocketry South Africa]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOQA7W_Iovc Example of a high-power rocket flight, ascent only]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlAVxHC6_F8 High-Power Rocket Onboard Video]

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