Quantcast

Legal Restrictions for College Rocketry Groups.

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

Aksrockets

Now with 8% more aluminum
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Messages
3,505
Reaction score
8
Hey TRF, it's been a while.

The rocket group at the university I go to has hit a pretty big (red tape covered) road block. We've been dabbling in EX, but nothing too serious (an M motor here and there). We'll be competing in the annual ESRA competition along with a few dozen other universities this coming June.
Because of obvious university liability issues, we're gonna have to comply with every law and regulation under the sun. The gravity of this notion just barely struck us after a meeting with a local fire marshal. There are regulations in place I was never aware of for the storing and transport of solid rocket propellant. However, in this hobby the vast majority of those regulations are discarded.

For example, we were told because DOT continues to classify rocket propellant as a 1.4 grade explosive, we have to keep it stored in a type 4 magazine. The ATF also classifies both black powder and any electric matches as a low explosive and requires grade 4 magazine storage as well. I can't say I've ever seen either of these regulations enforced. I don't really see many hobbyists rushing home to get their pack of A8-3s to safety.

We'd really prefer not to spend a few hundred dollars buying something to keep our igniters and BP in.

Not only this, but to store any "low explosives" (like estes igniters apparently), we'd need a mile of ATF documentation and licencing. That's a can of worms I'd prefer not to open.

There's about a dozen other hoops we'll have to jump through, and they're ones I won't get into here. The safety office here hasn't been exactly accommodating. You can imagine a few twenty-somethings wanting to mix "Rocket Propellant" doesn't bode well with a few uninformed safety bureaucrats.

If you're a student at another rocket group, I'm very interested to know what kind of hoops you've had to jump through and if you were able to bypass any regulations. If you've got experience with this stuff, some advice would be greatly appreciated. There's another hundred universities doing this, a few of them must have found loopholes.
Thanks,

Alex
 

tfish

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
2,658
Reaction score
699
Alex, I've been asked by ESRA to address these concerns that some of the Universities are having with this subject. I'm heading out to Springfest in the morning and should have some info out by Friday.

I can't guarantee it to be pain free, but hopefully show that what we are doing to doable in most cases.

Tony
 

jimzcatz

Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
Joined
Jan 22, 2009
Messages
4,110
Reaction score
303
Location
Hurdle Mills NC
I may be wrong here, but as I understand it, as consumers we don't have any storage /transportation requirements, except for BP and igniters. I don't know if that changes for universities. If I am wrong, 99% of us are criminals.
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,617
Reaction score
3,436
Location
Butte, Montana
I may be wrong here, but as I understand it, as consumers we don't have any storage /transportation requirements, except for BP and igniters. I don't know if that changes for universities. If I am wrong, 99% of us are criminals.
That's how I understand it also.


Steve Shannon
 

Peartree

Cyborg Rocketeer
Staff member
Administrator
Global Mod
Joined
Jan 6, 2009
Messages
5,361
Reaction score
846
Location
Alliance, Ohio
I may be wrong here, but as I understand it, as consumers we don't have any storage /transportation requirements, except for BP and igniters. I don't know if that changes for universities. If I am wrong, 99% of us are criminals.
On the other hand, since in this case the university is the property owner, what they want may be more than what the law requires.
 

Nytrunner

Pop lugs, not drugs
TRF Supporter
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
7,773
Reaction score
3,404
Location
Huntsville AL
When I was on my college team, we got most of our roadblocks from the university safety organization. We would point them at the NFPA regs and they would then impose tons of PPE requirements on us based on MSDS worst case scenarios.

....And then bizarrely enough, they said it was ok to static fire a motor on the soccer field as long as we put a fire blanket under it......I'd have loved to see them try and put that out with their little fire extinguishers. Too bad the Meas lab lost the load cell before we could do it.
 

les

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,814
Reaction score
423
I may be wrong here, but as I understand it, as consumers we don't have any storage /transportation requirements, except for BP and igniters. I don't know if that changes for universities. If I am wrong, 99% of us are criminals.
One of the reasons Estes changed their formula and name from igniters to starters was to avoid any storage/transportation requirements.
I also thought Estes motors were exempt from some of the transport/storage requirements (D and smaller)
 

dave carver

....what hump?
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
4,973
Reaction score
5
Location
Idaho
The easiest way "around" the problems is to not store a motor, you make it onsite. The rules are much easier for storage of the components of a motor that the motors themselves. The problems of logistics are not that big a deal and you wouldn't be the first. Reaction Research Society would be a good place to start.
 

stealth6

insert witty tagline here
Joined
May 1, 2011
Messages
2,674
Reaction score
220
ESRA/IREC is happening down at the Spaceport in Las Cruces this year, no?

For the last few years, they held the launch "in my back yard" near Green River Utah, which was cool for me as I could stop by and check it all out.
Looks like I'll be missing it this year. dang it.

s6
 

jnelson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2015
Messages
99
Reaction score
3
I'm the head of the propulsion group for my university. This is our second year in the competition.

I think part of what you're experiencing is from your university. Ours has been very supportive, the engineering department and the university president are quite on board with it. That doesn't mean we got a free pass. Before we were allowed to start we wrote out detailed procedures, and worked to revise them with input from professors and state risk officials. These state risk officials were also present at our first static test. In terms of insurance, we are covered since we are a university group, although we did have to purchase additional insurance for the launch itself. We're also temporarily not allowed to use [a certain gray colored ingredient that improves ISP] in our motors.

I remember from last year's IREC, that some of the teams I talked to that were flying commercial motors were doing so because their university simply disallowed them from making their own propellant at all. It sounds like there's a chance you might at least have a way 'in', so I'd recommend trying to pursue it as much as you can. We haven't encountered quite as many hoops... I wish I could comment more on specific issues. I would definitely suggest spending some time nailing down your procedures. You may also want to talk with a chemistry professor, they may be able to help improve your procedures when working with specific chemicals; which will make the safety overlords happier.

Sincerely wish you good luck, and hope to see you out there in June :)


ESRA/IREC is happening down at the Spaceport in Las Cruces this year, no?

For the last few years, they held the launch "in my back yard" near Green River Utah, which was cool for me as I could stop by and check it all out.
Looks like I'll be missing it this year. dang it.

s6
That's correct, it sounds like it's a long term change. I'll miss the distance too, it was only a three hour drive (now 12 hours). But they've outgrown that launch site... it was a headache last year, and with double the number of teams this year, I just can't see how it would have worked out. It's too bad, I liked Green River.
 
Last edited:
Top