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artapplewhite

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I've hosted a couple of unaffiliated high power launches in a local cow pasture. I call these Freedom Launches. I've been using the Amateur Rocketry Society of America's safety code at a guide. Both commercial and experimental motors are allowed and neither motor or flier certifications are required. We don't have insurance but everyone, including spectators, signs a Liability Release. Is anyone else hosting or going to launches like this?
Art Applewhite
 

bobkrech

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I've hosted a couple of unaffiliated high power launches in a local cow pasture. I call these Freedom Launches. I've been using the Amateur Rocketry Society of America's safety code at a guide. Both commercial and experimental motors are allowed and neither motor or flier certifications are required. We don't have insurance but everyone, including spectators, signs a Liability Release. Is anyone else hosting or going to launches like this?
Art Applewhite
Art

METRA is another independent group in southern New York, but their rules are basically modified TRA Research rules, and they required HP certrifications fromn either TRA or NAR. They have land-owner indemnification insurance, but not individual or club liability insurance so they require a signed release to participate, but they are individually and as a club liable for whatever happens whether they know it or not.

Just a few comments. The ARSA safety code is rather short on safety. The separation distances are not specified for motors above J. The TRA Research rules and NFPA 1127 have an empirical engineering basis for the separation distance.

IMO a Liability Release isn't worth the paper it's written on. If there's an accident, you will be sued whether or not you required a signed Liability Release or not, and you'll probaly have a 5 figure legal bill even if the case is eventually dropped. I'd make sure I had a several million dollar umbralla liability policy before I sponsored an Indy launch.

Bob
 

artapplewhite

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Art

IMO a Liability Release isn't worth the paper it's written on. If there's an accident, you will be sued whether or not you required a signed Liability Release or not, and you'll probaly have a 5 figure legal bill even if the case is eventually dropped. I'd make sure I had a several million dollar umbralla liability policy before I sponsored an Indy launch.

Bob
The liability release I use was "borrowed" from a Tripoli club that doesn't always follow the TRA "research" rules to the letter. :madnote:

I have no illusions about it's ability to stand up in court. At best, all it represents is each participant's written promise not to be a total jerk if things don't go according to plan. :cheers:

I don't have much faith in insurance companies. If I had a 5 figure legal bill on a policy with only a 3 or 4 figure annual premium, any for-profit insurance company's would simply cancel my policy and give their lawyers a 7 figure annual bonus. :bang:

I may be foolish, but I chose not to live my life in fear of what might happen. If I did, I certainly won't be flying rockets. :duck:

Now, I see why isn't so hard to get information about independent launches.:confused2:

Art Applewhite
 

quickburst

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I've been to several independent launches. If you understand the risk, go for it.

Then you have those that cry when they find out they are responsible for their actions. One (or more) in every crowd.
 

artapplewhite

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http://www.mdrocketry.org/ requires proof of current certification.
Will,

I'm sorry to ask so many questions of you but you're the only one who has responded with any real info. Maybe another MDRA member will chime in here.

The MDRA sounds like a very interesting club. Are you a member? Have you attended any of their launches?

Do you know why they require proof of NAR or TRA certificaton? I checked their very comprehensive and well written FAQs but didn't find the "why" for proof of NAR or TRA HPR certification. :confused2:

According to their website, each flier must present a current NAR or TRA membership card with HPR certification level to fly at that level. One of the things that implies is if you were once HPR certified but haven't kept up on your annual national dues, you couldn't fly HPR at their launches. Is that the correct interpretation? I wonder what the point of that is, given that the only other way you can lose a HPR certification is to die. :shock:

Another thing their FAQs says is NAR members can fly EX. Could a NAR, or TRA for that matter, L1 fly an H or I Ex motor or do they have to be an L2 as the TRA Research Safety Code requires to fly any Ex?

Why do they (or the landowner) have zero faith in NAR and TRA insurance and yet such absolute faith in their HPR certification programs?

With regards to motors. What types of EX motors do they allow? The same as TRA or are other types, such as PVC, allowed? How about OOP motors like the A10-0T?

Which safety codes do they actually follow?

In the section of the FAQs covering procedures to follow to fly at at MDRA launch, they mention a waiver, I'm assuming this is some sort of liability waiver, do you know what it says? :madnote:

Art Applewhite
 

ben_ullman

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Will,

I'm sorry to ask so many questions of you but you're the only one who has responded with any real info. Maybe another MDRA member will chime in here.

The MDRA sounds like a very interesting club. Are you a member? Have you attended any of their launches?

Do you know why they require proof of NAR or TRA certificaton? I checked their very comprehensive and well written FAQs but didn't find the "why" for proof of NAR or TRA HPR certification. :confused2:

According to their website, each flier must present a current NAR or TRA membership card with HPR certification level to fly at that level. One of the things that implies is if you were once HPR certified but haven't kept up on your annual national dues, you couldn't fly HPR at their launches. Is that the correct interpretation? I wonder what the point of that is, given that the only other way you can lose a HPR certification is to die. :shock:

Another thing their FAQs says is NAR members can fly EX. Could a NAR, or TRA for that matter, L1 fly an H or I Ex motor or do they have to be an L2 as the TRA Research Safety Code requires to fly any Ex?

Why do they (or the landowner) have zero faith in NAR and TRA insurance and yet such absolute faith in their HPR certification programs?

With regards to motors. What types of EX motors do they allow? The same as TRA or are other types, such as PVC, allowed? How about OOP motors like the A10-0T?

Which safety codes do they actually follow?

In the section of the FAQs covering procedures to follow to fly at at MDRA launch, they mention a waiver, I'm assuming this is some sort of liability waiver, do you know what it says? :madnote:

Art Applewhite

Let me see if I can answer some of this. I a a current MDRA member, just went to a launch last weekend. They use the certification rule because it allows things to be more "orderly" and use present rules in place. It helps with safety so joe blow doesnt try to make an M motor and try and fly it. Why change a system that works? (partially ;) )

NAR members can fly EX or commercial. WITHIN THEIR CERT LEVEL.

You can come fly a liquid motor, PVC, Ex, OOP motors, and commercial. they asses the risk. If someone makes a liquid G motor they would still but it at K or L distance due to the voltility of it.

its not that they do not have faith in TRA or NAR. But why put so many restrictions on things? I mean at a TRA research launch I cannot cross the flight line. But I can at MDRA. Everyone is there to fly rockets so why make it so hard to do that?

Ben
 

artapplewhite

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Art

The ARSA safety code is rather short on safety. The separation distances are not specified for motors above J.

Bob
I don't think I'd characterized the ARSA safety code as being "short on safety". In fact, unlike other "safety" codes, that have many non-safety provisions in them, the ARSA safety code pretty much sticks to safety issues only. :clap:

With regard to motors above J impulse the ARSA Safety Code allows the use of common sense and individual judgment instead of mandating distances based on a very inconsistent table. Here are the values of minimum separation distances for "non-complex", i.e. single motor rockets, from paragraph 7.5.2. in the TRA research code.

A-J or 1280 N-s max - 200 feet
K or 2560 N-s max - 250 feet or 25% more than J
L or 5120 N-s max - 300 feet or 16.6% more than K
M or 10,240 N-s max - 500 feet or 40% more than L
N or 20,480 N-s max - 1000 feet or 100% more than M
0 or 40,960 N-s max - 500 feet or 50% more than N
P-T (up 890,000 N-s, 22xO) - 2000 feet or only 25% more than O :jaw:

Why does the minimum separation distance only double when going from an M to an N (2xM) motor? Why not for all the others. Why such a small (16.7%) change between K & L? When taken all together, this list of distances seems quite arbitrary. It would be difficult to come up with a mathematical formula or an experimental data set that would justify these. :confused2:

Art Applewhite
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bobkrech

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I don't think I'd characterized the ARSA safety code as being "short on safety". In fact, unlike other "safety" codes, that have many non-safety provisions in them, the ARSA safety code pretty much sticks to safety issues only. :clap:

With regard to motors above J impulse the ARSA Safety Code allows the use of common sense and individual judgment instead of mandating distances based on a very inconsistent table. Here are the values of minimum separation distances for "non-complex", i.e. single motor rockets, from paragraph 7.5.2. in the TRA research code.

A-J or 1280 N-s max - 200 feet
K or 2560 N-s max - 250 feet or 25% more than J
L or 5120 N-s max - 300 feet or 16.6% more than K
M or 10,240 N-s max - 500 feet or 40% more than L
N or 20,480 N-s max - 1000 feet or 100% more than M
0 or 40,960 N-s max - 500 feet or 50% more than N
P-T (up 890,000 N-s, 22xO) - 2000 feet or only 25% more than O :jaw:

Why does the minimum separation distance only double when going from an M to an N (2xM) motor? Why not for all the others. Why such a small (16.7%) change between K & L? When taken all together, this list of distances seems quite arbitrary. It would be difficult to come up with a mathematical formula or an experimental data set that would justify these. :confused2:

Art Applewhite
Amateur Rocketeers of Texas
Art

As part of my day job where I had to assist in the development of a DoD approved explosives storage/manufacturing site plan, I figured out that the nominal separation distances for hobby rocketry are roughly twice the calculated DoD shrapnel throw distances versus propellant weight in motor casings. The model is well-developed, and is empirically and statistically based.

One could argue about the differences in the simple and complex rocket separation distances, and I believe that some of the assumptions include delay explosions, and airbursts which are harder to quantify. Just remember that safety codes are designed to mitigate the hazard and preclude the possiblity of personal injury. For a hobby rocket launch where there are no national defense issues involved, there should be a zero tolerance for injury. If you halved the recommended separation distance, you probably would still be safe, however there would be a statistically increased probability of a shrapnel injury if a motor catoed. At some further reduction of the calculated throw distance, the impact probabilities become higher and ultimately unacceptable, and regardless of the probabilities, if you are hit by a high velocity fragment, regardless of origin, it is likely to cause serious injury or a fatality, depending upon size, shape and velocity. To reiterate this point, I have been at several launches where motor casing and rocket fragments have gone by me even thought I was outside the 15' and 30' separation distances from catoing low-power and mid-power rocket motors.

The full analysis is beyond the scope of the forum, but if you want some references, you can PM me.

Bob
 

rocketsmith

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I sometimes do a lake launch in the winter. Up here in the great north woods of Minnesota a frozen lake is the only place to get 200 acres of flat uninterrupted launch site. Just me though, the liability issues are too great otherwise. You know...lawyers wreck everything.
 

shreadvector

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Evo666

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My Last weeks launch was called Freedom Launch :p I'm wondering why you call yours that too?
 

artapplewhite

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Art

As part of my day job where I had to assist in the development of a DoD approved explosives storage/manufacturing site plan, I figured out that the nominal separation distances for hobby rocketry are roughly twice the calculated DoD shrapnel throw distances versus propellant weight in motor casings. The model is well-developed, and is empirically and statistically based.

One could argue about the differences in the simple and complex rocket separation distances, and I believe that some of the assumptions include delay explosions, and airbursts which are harder to quantify. Just remember that safety codes are designed to mitigate the hazard and preclude the possiblity of personal injury. For a hobby rocket launch where there are no national defense issues involved, there should be a zero tolerance for injury. If you halved the recommended separation distance, you probably would still be safe, however there would be a statistically increased probability of a shrapnel injury if a motor catoed. At some further reduction of the calculated throw distance, the impact probabilities become higher and ultimately unacceptable, and regardless of the probabilities, if you are hit by a high velocity fragment, regardless of origin, it is likely to cause serious injury or a fatality, depending upon size, shape and velocity. To reiterate this point, I have been at several launches where motor casing and rocket fragments have gone by me even thought I was outside the 15' and 30' separation distances from catoing low-power and mid-power rocket motors.

The full analysis is beyond the scope of the forum, but if you want some references, you can PM me.

Bob
It's great to get some reality based input but would your "well-developed, and is empirically and statistically based" model have produced the random distribution of the values found in any of the minimum separation distances tables of the rocketry safety codes? There's no rhyme or reason to them other than the distances get larger with each doubling of impulse. I fully accept that there is a need for minimum separations based on expected impulse. It's just the arbitrary way they're implemented by the various safety codes that bothers me. To be relevant, they should be consistent with "rocket science" and actual experience.

So far I've flown 1/8 A through J motors and I've had my fair share of "mishaps". My worst accident was actually a C motor that got loose from a prototype and, while still under thrust, hit me on my bare shin. It broke the skin and left a crescent-shaped scar. :duck: Now when I get strip searched at airports, they think that scar is evidence that I belong to a Muslim terrorist organization. It also doesn't help that my clothes have detectable traces of black powder residue on them.

I was 50 feet from the launch pad during the runaway motor incident, more than 3 times the recommended separation distance in the applicable safety code. I could have been twice a far away and the motor still would have hit me as hard because it was under thrust the whole time. To reduce the possibility of the same type of injury, I'll wear long pants (and a hard hat) when experimenting with new airframes, but I won't be asking for that to become a requirement in a rocketry safety code or that the "safety" distances for model rockets be increased.

An M-powered "land shark" is going to cover 500 feet in a heartbeat and yet very little attention is given in HRP safety codes to mitigate these types of failures. If Land Sharks are common enough to have a universally accepted nickname name, shouldn't they be covered somewhere in one of the rocketry safety codes?

There is no specific regulation anywhere for specific acceptable descent rates. The potential damage from a descending rocket (and they all descend eventually) is directly related to its kinetic energy, which is directly proportional to its mass and the square of its speed. There should be a table (or at least a rule) based on recovery weight that specifies the maximum allowable descent rate. The more massive the rocket, the slower it should be allowed to fall. Of course this only has meaning when the recovery system works 100% as planned. It doesn't take a "CATastrOphic" failure of a recovery system for a rocket to come in "ballistic" or take a "core sample". Gravity is a stern mistress and no respecter of HPR certification Level. :bangpan:

Getting back to the original point of this discussion, independent launches. Since most of the "established" safety codes don't make much sense from a purely safety or scientific basis, I don't follow their non-safety provisions. For the rest, I prefer science and common sense to dogma.

Ultimately, all I really want to do is restore the fun and the science to amateur rocketry without sacrificing actual safety. That's the reason I started flying rockets 50 years ago and why I'm trying to find a way to do it today.

Art Applewhite
Amateur Rocketeers of Texas
 

artapplewhite

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Let me see if I can answer some of this. I a a current MDRA member, just went to a launch last weekend. They use the certification rule because it allows things to be more "orderly" and use present rules in place. It helps with safety so joe blow doesnt try to make an M motor and try and fly it. Why change a system that works? (partially ;) )

NAR members can fly EX or commercial. WITHIN THEIR CERT LEVEL.

You can come fly a liquid motor, PVC, Ex, OOP motors, and commercial. they asses the risk. If someone makes a liquid G motor they would still but it at K or L distance due to the voltility of it.

its not that they do not have faith in TRA or NAR. But why put so many restrictions on things? I mean at a TRA research launch I cannot cross the flight line. But I can at MDRA. Everyone is there to fly rockets so why make it so hard to do that?

Ben
Ben,
Thank you for the details. The rules MDRA follows seem to be a good mix of common sense and pragmatism. If I ever get up that way, I'd like to attend one of their launches. Of course I won't be allowed to fly anything above a G motor because even though

I was both NAR and TRA Level 2 certified
I was a TRA Prefect for several years
I currently design kits that are flown with M motors

I haven't been a member of either cult for over a year and therefore technically uncertified.

If I had only kept up on my dues to one of them, my L2, which I got with a flying saucer and no parachute and signed off by a TRA Prefect back in the Golden Days of HPR, would still be valid.:madnote:

Whether NAR and TRA HPR certifications "work" is debatable. I think they are the single biggest factor holding amateur rocketry back but that is better left to a separate discussion somewhere other than TRF.

I've already been excommunicated from the Texas HPR community for the heresy of hosting launches where motor and flier certifications are not required and the RSO actually takes a person's flight history and not their certification level into account before approving a flight. Think of it like a credit score; No history or bad history and you don't fly anything above a "C". :clap:

Art Applewhite
Amateur Rocketeers of Texas
 

ben_ullman

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Ben,
Thank you for the details. The rules MDRA follows seem to be a good mix of common sense and pragmatism. If I ever get up that way, I'd like to attend one of their launches. Of course I won't be allowed to fly anything above a G motor because even though

I was both NAR and TRA Level 2 certified
I was a TRA Prefect for several years
I currently design kits that are flown with M motors

I haven't been a member of either cult for over a year and therefore technically uncertified.

If I had only kept up on my dues to one of them, my L2, which I got with a flying saucer and no parachute and signed off by a TRA Prefect back in the Golden Days of HPR, would still be valid.:madnote:

Whether NAR and TRA HPR certifications "work" is debatable. I think they are the single biggest factor holding amateur rocketry back but that is better left to a separate discussion somewhere other than TRF.

I've already been excommunicated from the Texas HPR community for the heresy of hosting launches where motor and flier certifications are not required and the RSO actually takes a person's flight history and not their certification level into account before approving a flight. Think of it like a credit score; No history or bad history and you don't fly anything above a "C". :clap:

Art Applewhite
Amateur Rocketeers of Texas
I mean I agree with you, and with MDRA. I am not able to be certified but I feel I know ALOT more than some people who do fly and might have a L1 or L2. Its about what you know not how old you are. I have made my share of mistakes but if it was easy everyone would be doing it.

The only reason I cant be certified is because if something was to happen no one could "touch me" in a court of law, they would have to sue my parents.

To me we are all there for the same cause. If you feel you are safe 100 feet from an EX O motor, by god go ahead, but its on you if something happens. I cant stand the sue happy people, what if sitauation makers, and beauricratic crap that makes it hard to enjoy, what I think to be, a very imoportant "past time" for america, and even the world.

Ben
 
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