Launch Safety

At NSWRA safety is always our number one priority

Model rocketry has an excellent safety record and we want to keep it that way.

As a prefecture of the Tripoli Rocketry Association we follow Tripoli’s safety guidelines and safe launch practices.

We encourage all members to visit the Safety Information Page on Tripoli’s website and become familiar with the relevant safety documents.

In particular we draw your attention to:

Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

CASA is the Australian national authority for the regulation of civil aviation. In 2002 CASA published an advisory circular that provides “guidance to the public in the operation of rockets and the means whereby they may safely and legally launch them.”


NSWRA is grateful to CASA for their ongoing support of rocketry in Australia.

Top Ten Tips for a Safe Launch

  1. Listen to and follow the instructions of the officials. They are volunteers and are there to help keep everyone safe, so please help them to do their job my listening carefully.
  2. When the range is armed stay behind the safety rope. Minimum safe distances are an important component of the Safe Launch Practices. The Launch Control Officer (LCO) will announce when the range is armed and when it is safe.
  3. No running. There are typically cables and ropes on the ground and fragile rockets nearby, so walking is the safest option.
  4. Pay attention when rockets are going up and coming down. They are fun to watch and safer if you keep an eye on them.
  5. If a “Heads Up Flight” is announced please stand and watch the rocket’s flight carefully. If you are on your feet its much easier to move out of harm’s way in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong.
  6. Don’t attempt to catch a rocket. While it may seem like a fun idea the motor could be hot or you could damage someone’s pride and joy.
  7. Don’t insert igniters in motors any earlier than necessary. For HPR motors igniters must not be inserted until the rocket is on the launch rod or rail.
  8. Always plan to get your rocket back. Ideally we want no rocket left behind. If its a little windy consider a smaller motor, smaller chute, spill hole or a streamer.
  9. No smoking near motors and no alcohol is to be consumed at a launch.
  10. If you see something unsafe please let an official know. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Sparky Motors

Sparky motors contain particles of titanium (sometimes referred to as ‘titanium sponge’) in the propellant grains, resulting in a shower of sparks being emitted from the motor when the rocket is launched.

These types of motors have several descriptive names, including

  • Skidmark
  • Spitfire
  • Black Lightning
  • Metalstorm
  • Dark Matter

While they are lots of fun to watch they do increase the risk of fire at the launch site.

All members must notify the committee in advance of his/her intention to use a sparky motor at an upcoming launch. This allows time for a review of the conditions and proper site preparation. It is essential that firefighting equipment is present when these motors are used and appropriate personnel are present during the launch.

For more infomation please read the NSWRA Sparky Motor Protocols.