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SSS Rocketry

Building and Flying model and high-power rockets

Launch Procedures


Launch Procedures

The SSS sets up and operates its launch range using a method known as “Misfire Alley”. Simply put, a launch site arranged by “Misfire Alley” insures a safe, reliable means of flying rockets while allowing each person the ability to push his/her own ignition button.

The current Model Rocket and High Power Rocket safety codes have a “minimum safe distance” requirement that states if your flying a motor of “X” size, you must be “Y” feet from that motor. For example; if you are flying a “G” motor, you are required to be at least 30 feet from the rocket, or in the case of an “H” motor, the minimum safe distance is 100 feet. Furthermore, because our “MIsfire Alley” launch range set-up is designed around the minimum safe distance requirement, you must be sure your launch control system has an ignition cable appropriate for the motor(s) you plan to fly or you will not be allowed to use your ignition system!

The following spells out the process you must follow in order to fly a rocket at a SSS monthly launch:
1) Pay range fee at the registration table (once per launch session).
NOTE: Flyers 18 years old and up must present proof of certification level if they are planning on using high power motors.
2) Set up your launch system at any available pad location (they are numbered) consistent with the largest motor you will use.
IMPORTANT: Your launch control cable must be of sufficient length to go from your launch pad to the launch control line which extends from either side of the Launch Control Officer’s (LCO) table.

• Row 1 Pad Markers are 16 feet from the launch control line and are for all single motors and clusters up to 20 N-sec. (D).
• Row 2 Pad Markers (30 feet) are for all single motors and clusters from 20.01 N-sec. to 160 N-sec. (E, F, G).
• Row 3 Pad Markers (100 feet) are for all single motors and clusters from 160.01 N-sec. To 640 N-sec. (H, I, J).
NOTE: Model rockets may be launched from mid and high power pad locations.
3) Pick up a flight card at the registration table.

4) Prepare your rocket and fill out the flight card legibly and completely. Be sure to include the delay time of the motor.
IMPORTANT: When prepping your rocket for presentation to the Range Safety Officer (RSO), DO NOT install an igniter in any high power motor- igniters must be installed in high power motors at the launch pad!

5) Present your rocket and Flight card to the RSO.
NOTE: Children 11 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult through this and the following steps.
NOTE: Flyers 17 years old and under launching rockets with E, F and G motors must be accompanied by an adult through this and the following steps.
NOTE: Certification flight sponsors shall accompany the applicant through the RSO inspection.

6) The RSO will inspect your rocket for adherence to the safety code(s) and to see if:
• The single-use or reloadable motor you are using is certified;
• If you are using an appropriate igniter:
• If the igniter is properly installed,
• and if the rocket is structurally sound and safe for flight with the chosen motor.

Try to keep one very important thing in mind during the inspection of your rocket; if the RSO asks that repairs or changes be made to your rocket, please understand that the request is being made in the interest of safety, not to embarrass you. Any alterations or repairs to your rocket requested by the RSO must be completed and the rocket re-inspected again before it can be cleared for launch.

7) After the RSO approves your rocket for flight, proceed to the launch area and place it on your launch pad (or a pad that you have made a prior arrangement to use), and prepare for launch.
NOTE: Only people that are absolutely necessary to the set-up of your rocket may be in the launch area with you.

8) With your rocket on the pad and the igniter connected to your ignition system, walk back to your launch controller and perform a momentary continuity test. If the igniter tests “good” then you may take your flight card to the Launch Control Officer (LCO.) The LCO will then put your flight card in the queue and can return to your launch controller and wait for your name to be called. (DO NOT turn in your flight card until your igniter tests “good”.)
NOTE: While you wait for your turn to launch, please stand close to the spectator flag line so you do not obstruct the line of sight of the LCO, Range Safety Observer (RSOB) and the person currently launching.
NOTE: If the LCO gets to your flight card and you are NOT ready to launch, the flight card will be returned to you. You must then install a new igniter and once again return your flight card to the LCO and wait for your countdown.

9) When your name is called by the LCO, step up to your launch controller and raise your pad number sign so the LCO can recognize you as the next flyer.
The LCO will then:
• Announce the information on the flight card (the pad number, your name, name and type of rocket, motor Information, etc.);
• Perform a safety check of the range with the help of the RSOB;
• And when the range is safe, give you a 5-second countdown ending in “LAUNCH” or “IGNITION”.
NOTE: DO NOT insert your safety key until the LCO announces ” Range safety is go”.

10) Only after the LCO counts down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and says “LAUNCH” or “IGNITION” should you press your ignition button– NOT BEFORE! DO NOT anticipate the launch command. For safety reasons, be aware that the LCO may stop the countdown at any time by calling “HOLD”. Once the launch range is declared safe, your countdown will be started over.

If you have a misfire:
• WAIT 60 SECONDS before approaching your rocket.
• Retrieve your flight card at the LCO table.
• Correct the problem and begin again at Step 8.

Fantastic! Your model has just soared straight as an arrow into the “wild blue yonder”. Be sure to remember that YOU are responsible for keeping track of and recovering your rocket. (If you suspect anything isn’t going as planned, be sure to loudly yell “HEADS UP!”) If you have any concerns about keeping track of your rocket, be sure to ask for help. There are many “eagle-eyed” observers at SSS launches who will gladly watch your flight and help point out where your rocket is or where it lands.

As required by the High Power Rocket safety code, NO SMOKING or open flame shall be permitted in the launch site’s preparation area, at a launch pad, or within twenty-five (25) feet of any single-use rocket motors, motor reloading kits, or pyrotechnic modules. ANY USE OF ALCOHOL OR POSSIBLE IMPAIRING DRUG DURING A SSS LAUNCH IS PROHIBITED.

Through yearly dues, range fees, and good ol’ sweat, the membership of the Superstition Spacemodeling Society has amassed first-rate range equipment (banners, stakes, public address system, tables and chairs, etc..). Few rocket groups are as well equipped as we are. However, the set-up, operation, and tear-down of this launch range equipment is work that must be performed every month. It is work that cannot be done by one person, nor should it be work always performed by the same small group of people. It is work that must be shared by all SSS members if everyone is going to have an equal opportunity to fly their rockets! So please, make an honest effort to take part in the set up, operation, and tear-down of your launch range.

Have fun! Fly safely! Share your ideas!

The Board of Trustees of the Superstition Spacemodeling Society

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