Quantcast

Tripoli and NAR Certification: Do I really need it?

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

Rockethawk

New Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Hi Everyone,
I am the president of a rocketry club at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. I am also new to this forum so hello! I've been doing a lot of research on low/med/high powered rocket building and I've seen the issue of Tripoli and NAR certification pop up more than a few times. From what I've read both types of certification are friendly to individuals who build rockets and not as friendly to groups who want to build rockets as a team or a school (requiring the person seeking the certification to both build and launch their own rocket individually). Finally it is my understanding that such a certification is not legally required by the US Gov't to build and launch high powered rockets, however I do know that the FAA has certain permits that you have to obtain to fly such a rocket. My questions are this:


  1. Is Tripoli and NAR certification necessary to fly?
  2. What are the benefits of membership for a club?
  3. Are there legal ramifications if you don't have certification?
  4. How can a club obtain Tripoli certification for its members if the process requires each cert seeker to build and launch their own rocket (a prohibitive and expensive process for a group of 15)?
  5. Does certification ease the process of buying supplies or getting FAA waivers?

I'll post more questions as I think of them but I think that's plenty for now. I'd appreciate any insight and thank for the help in advance.
-James
 

djs

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Messages
3,367
Reaction score
250
Hi James,

I'll try to answer your questions briefly:
1. If you're talking about HPR rockets- no, you could theoretically have a launch on your own that's not Tripoli or NAR based. However, you'll still need to get an FAA waiver on your own. Also note that you will have no insurance in case someone gets hurt or property gets damaged.
2. Assuming you're talking about a NAR or Tripoli based club, you can get insurance for your launches through those clubs.
3. "Certification" is really the NAR/Tripoli way to keep themselves safe. It's not a "legal" requirement, other than the FAA waiver related requirements.
4. You are correct in that each cert seeker has to build their own rocket and fly it. There is no way around this.
5. You will find you have a very hard time getting either HPR motors or flying under an FAA waiver if you're not part of a NAR or Tripoli club.

Just a note- I appreciate that you're asking questions, rather than just going ahead without inquiring first :)
 
Last edited:

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,610
Reaction score
3,432
Location
Butte, Montana
James,
Those are good questions and djs gave excellent answers.
College students 18 and above may participate in Tripoli launches as long as they are supervised by a Tripoli member who is certified appropriately. For group projects it may be sufficient to have one person certified, which could be a student, mentor, or an instructor.
Typically the hardest part of flying rockets is finding a place to fly and getting insurance. Most rocket motors through Level 2 cost less than textbooks and are much more fun to burn.
The rocket club at our local engineering college was able to get donations to fund their motors and building supplies. Only one of the students joined NAR. They are free to attend our launches.
Another college that I help actually has a program where each of the students actively pursue Tripoli certification as part of the curriculum. Some are now working towards L2.
So certification and membership can be part of the process or not.
 

rfjustin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
2,790
Reaction score
1,435
Location
Franklin, WI
If you are from Lawrence, KS, PLEASE make contact with Kloudbusters, they fly outside of Argonia. Those boys and girls put on some of the best launches in the country and would be happy to help you! Tell Bob and Lance hello for me!

https://kloudbusters.org/
 

Zeus-cat

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
4,592
Reaction score
796
When college students launch a rocket for a project at one of our NAR club launches only one person needs to be certified. They are the ones taking responsibility for the rocket and any damage it may cause. We also restrict access to the launch area to those that are certified or are required to help set up the rocket; so the whole team can't go out to set it up.

As an extra note; I strongly advise your team to have one or more experienced high power rocketeers review your rocket prior to a launch. I have seen college teams seriously damage and destroy some very nice rockets because of simple mistakes. Actually, you should have experienced people review the design too. I have seen some poor design choices that resulted in damage to the rocket. High power rockets are NOT simply bigger versions of Estes kits.
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,610
Reaction score
3,432
Location
Butte, Montana
When college students launch a rocket for a project at one of our NAR club launches only one person needs to be certified. They are the ones taking responsibility for the rocket and any damage it may cause. We also restrict access to the launch area to those that are certified or are required to help set up the rocket; so the whole team can't go out to set it up.

As an extra note; I strongly advise your team to have one or more experienced high power rocketeers review your rocket prior to a launch. I have seen college teams seriously damage and destroy some very nice rockets because of simple mistakes. Actually, you should have experienced people review the design too. I have seen some poor design choices that resulted in damage to the rocket. High power rockets are NOT simply bigger versions of Estes kits.
That's great advice!
 

DavidMcCann

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2016
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
166
Also of note- you can fly up to a 3.3 pound (loaded on the pad ready to go) Rocket with up to 4.4oz of propellant without an FAA waiver (class one rocket)
 

Rockethawk

New Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
First off thank you all for the detailed answers and advice. It's important to hear from people who are in the field right now doing the things we would like to do in the future. I guess the most logical follow up question would be would be do you all think evolving our club at KU into a Tripoli Prefecture or NAR Section would be advisable and if so Tripoli or NAR? We'd like to build our own propulsion systems in the future and we aim to design, build, fabricate, and launch the first collegiate rocket to reach +100km.
 

DavidMcCann

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2016
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
166
First off thank you all for the detailed answers and advice. It's important to hear from people who are in the field right now doing the things we would like to do in the future. I guess the most logical follow up question would be would be do you all think evolving our club at KU into a Tripoli Prefecture or NAR Section would be advisable and if so Tripoli or NAR? We'd like to build our own propulsion systems in the future and we aim to design, build, fabricate, and launch the first collegiate rocket to reach +100km.
NAR has no provisions for making your own motors, so I would recommend TRA.

Joining a club would be the easiest thing to do if there is one within a few hours drive. Finding a field, maintaining launch equipment and handing waivers and such is both time consuming and costly. Also, the amount of experience it will put at hand will greatly speed up your process.
 

ksaves2

Lifetime Supporter
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Nov 25, 2009
Messages
6,049
Reaction score
337
Hi Everyone,
I am the president of a rocketry club at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. I am also new to this forum so hello! I've been doing a lot of research on low/med/high powered rocket building and I've seen the issue of Tripoli and NAR certification pop up more than a few times. From what I've read both types of certification are friendly to individuals who build rockets and not as friendly to groups who want to build rockets as a team or a school (requiring the person seeking the certification to both build and launch their own rocket individually). Finally it is my understanding that such a certification is not legally required by the US Gov't to build and launch high powered rockets, however I do know that the FAA has certain permits that you have to obtain to fly such a rocket. My questions are this:


  1. Is Tripoli and NAR certification necessary to fly? ------------------------------------------------ No, if one gets the necessary waivers to fly HPR at altitude on their chosen venue they're legal
  2. What are the benefits of membership for a club?------------------------------------------------ Like what others have mentioned
  3. Are there legal ramifications if you don't have certification?-----------------------------------Yes and no. Can't buy HPR motors above a G so you'll have to make your own. Plus see number one above.
  4. How can a club obtain Tripoli certification for its members if the process requires each cert seeker to build and launch their own rocket (a prohibitive and expensive process for a group of 15)?----Yes but see the other answers given. Just have a club member
  5. Does certification ease the process of buying supplies or getting FAA waivers? sponsor the flight or prefect. Any certified member could vouch
and sign for a flight if so inclined. Plus could be flown at a
a NAR site with certified motors or TRA with "college" made
APCP motor. Negates the need you having to find a site a get a
waiver as the club already has it.
I'll post more questions as I think of them but I think that's plenty for now. I'd appreciate any insight and thank for the help in advance.
-James
Some answers inline above.

Others no doubt are giving you excellent response. Most clubs NAR or TRA are willing to help with collegiate groups and heck some members might just want to join a certify to a certain level on their own. I doubt you
will have trouble with finding a group that will assist you with flying a reasonable project at their venue. It saves you having to go through the trouble of finding a site and going through the waiver paperwork. Kurt
 
Last edited:

jimzcatz

Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
Joined
Jan 22, 2009
Messages
4,099
Reaction score
297
Location
Hurdle Mills NC
As I understand it, being a Tripoli member over 25 years,certification is a legal requirement. From one of the early Tripoli handbooks. Who may possess and fly high power rockets "?

Members of the military or law enforcement for actions included there in.

Members if colleges or universities involved in research.

Members of organizations like Tripoli or NAR who are self governing.

I may have the wording wrong, but as I understand it, Joe or Jane Citizen cannot have high power motors without adhering to those statements.
 

tomsteve

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
894
Reaction score
257
i would strongly encourage you to join/start TRA. my thought is the consequences to the hobby and/or people if something doesnt go as planned during a launch or flight.
 

DavidMcCann

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2016
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
166
Jim- only if NFPA is codified into law where you are. It's hard to find a map, but I assure you it's not everywhere. We have to follow its rules as part of our clubs and insurance, but it's perfectly legal for someone outside of both clubs to buy an M and kick it off with an FAA waiver, in the right location.
 

DavidMcCann

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2016
Messages
2,656
Reaction score
166
i would strongly encourage you to join/start TRA. my thought is the consequences to the hobby and/or people if something doesnt go as planned during a launch or flight.
being a part of tra or NAR is not required to be safe. It helps, but the attitude that no one else is capable of being safe. And that one incident is going to shut us all down is tiring.

People die die doing things all the time and those hobbies do not get banned or regulated. Relax already
 

dhbarr

Amateur Professional
Joined
Jan 30, 2016
Messages
6,985
Reaction score
1,436
Kosmo, ERCC, Kloudbusters. Come visit Airfest and meet some folks!
 

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
3,183
Reaction score
1,660
First off thank you all for the detailed answers and advice. It's important to hear from people who are in the field right now doing the things we would like to do in the future. I guess the most logical follow up question would be would be do you all think evolving our club at KU into a Tripoli Prefecture or NAR Section would be advisable and if so Tripoli or NAR? We'd like to build our own propulsion systems in the future and we aim to design, build, fabricate, and launch the first collegiate rocket to reach +100km.
Having a lot of experience running a student club when in college, I would strongly suggest joining another local club. Three reasons:

* Running a club takes a fair amount of manpower, paperwork, and stuff. It's easier to piggyback on someone else who is already doing it. You'd rather be building rockets, right? If you have a club that looks like it can sustain itself in a couple of years, then by all means build it out to a full-blown TRA prefecture.
* You can take advantage of knowledge that is available in clubs. 100km is a really cool goal, but it's very ambitious to go from scratch to that in 4 years. I'm not saying it can't be done, but you'll need to learn a lot from others. With any luck, there are club members nearby who can help you on your way.
* Along the same lines, you're 3 hours from Argonia, the best launch site east of Black Rock. People from all over the East and Midwest go there for the high waivers, so you'll be able to see plenty of shakedown flights for people planning on doing high-altitude flights later in Black Rock. There's a lot of expertise there, and you will benefit a lot from it.

Sorry for any repeats of info from other people.
 

Woody's Workshop

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
4,293
Reaction score
190
Location
Reed City, Michigan (Lower)
I can only speak of myself, which I only launch rockets by myself in a neighbors farm field.
I've been doing so, and from my back yard before trees grew and were planted to launch even the lowest of flights, since 1970.
There is no clubs in any reasonable close distance to me.
Saying that, I have only launched low power. I am not without fun doing so. And as age increases, the distance to retrieve rockets I want to decrease.
I have never joined NAR or Tripoli, I never seen the value in it.
I do understand there is an insurance policy for property damage involved with being a member.
However, I've read stories right here on the forum where a rocket caused damage to vehicles and were refused by these insurance policies to cover the damage.
With that said, if you move into launching anything that requires a NAR or Tripoli certification, you will need to do so and pass the required written and launch tests.
So for me, I've saved what ever the cost is per year times 47 years.
Without a single incident of causing any property damage to anything.
In my younger years, it was not uncommon after bailing hay in the fields to launch a few rockets after supper.
I'm sure I'll catch heck from a few people, but if I ever want to launch bigger engines there is no one around me to sponsor me for a certification anyways.
 

Nick@JET

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Messages
1,693
Reaction score
18
To piggyback onto boatgeek, Argonia KS has a 25,000 and 50,000' waiver with some details - highest that I'm aware of short of Nevada and perhaps New Mexico with permission

Black rock is about the only place you can attempt and maybe my math is off but 100km is 350,000'+. Yikes, that's a big budget! Few have attempted much to their wives dismay. Not making light of your goal, reach for the stars man.

Go to a launch - one of the biggest of the year is Labor Day close to you, people will come from all over the country and you may have a "oh, $hoot, that's how they do it!" Moment and you will quickly understand.

I launch right from my house, of course under 3lb, and small motors because I live in the middle of nowhere and have cool neighbors that don't mind if I drop rockets in their cornfield, but obtaining waiver and said written permission from landowners is a different ball of wax. Just ask our club about that (I'm referring to higher power rockets) which I'm inferring that's where you want to go eventually. But Class one rockets no problem. Our local club has Purdue come and launch with us, just easier for them, would love to see the university come up with a couple thousand acres here in Indiana for a rocket playground.

Research motors is Tripoli only (TRA).

Hope you come to Kloudbusters, if so introduce yourself!
 
Last edited:

plugger

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
485
Reaction score
177
being a part of tra or NAR is not required to be safe. It helps, but the attitude that no one else is capable of being safe. And that one incident is going to shut us all down is tiring.

People die die doing things all the time and those hobbies do not get banned or regulated. Relax already
Agreed. Furthermore given your stated long term goal of reaching 100+km my expectation is that your research team will most likely at least consider liquids. Given that possibility you might want to steer clear from nar or tra and instead handle your project in house. Whilst both nar and tra are quite capable in supporting commercial motors and at times hybrids you're long term goal is, well, beyond the capabilities of most nar or tra flyers and therefore isn't really suited to those organisations. Even if you don't go down the liquids route you might find membership to either aforementioned groups as a hindrance instead of a value add.

For example, did the CSXT/GoFast team, as a team, join nar or tra before attempting their space shot? I don't think so. And yet they accomplished 100+km none the less. It might help, but it might not.
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,610
Reaction score
3,432
Location
Butte, Montana
Agreed. Furthermore given your stated long term goal of reaching 100+km my expectation is that your research team will most likely at least consider liquids. Given that possibility you might want to steer clear from nar or tra and instead handle your project in house. Whilst both nar and tra are quite capable in supporting commercial motors and at times hybrids you're long term goal is, well, beyond the capabilities of most nar or tra flyers and therefore isn't really suited to those organisations. Even if you don't go down the liquids route you might find membership to either aforementioned groups as a hindrance instead of a value add.

For example, did the CSXT/GoFast team, as a team, join nar or tra before attempting their space shot? I don't think so. And yet they accomplished 100+km none the less. It might help, but it might not.
I believe most, if not all, of the members of CSXT were already members of Tripoli beforehand.


Steve Shannon
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,610
Reaction score
3,432
Location
Butte, Montana
To piggyback onto boatgeek, Argonia KS has a 25,000 and 50,000' waiver with some details - highest that I'm aware of short of Nevada and perhaps New Mexico with permission

Black rock is about the only place you can attempt and maybe my math is off but 100km is 350,000'+. Yikes, that's a big budget! Few have attempted much to their wives dismay. Not making light of your goal, reach for the stars man.

Go to a launch - one of the biggest of the year is Labor Day close to you, people will come from all over the country and you may have a "oh, $hoot, that's how they do it!" Moment and you will quickly understand.

I launch right from my house, of course under 3lb, and small motors because I live in the middle of nowhere and have cool neighbors that don't mind if I drop rockets in their cornfield, but obtaining waiver and said written permission from landowners is a different ball of wax. Just ask our club about that (I'm referring to higher power rockets) which I'm inferring that's where you want to go eventually. But Class one rockets no problem. Our local club has Purdue come and launch with us, just easier for them, would love to see the university come up with a couple thousand acres here in Indiana for a rocket playground.

Research motors is Tripoli only (TRA).

Hope you come to Kloudbusters, if so introduce yourself!
We have a 52,000 foot waiver in Montana. The BALLS waiver at Black Rock doesn't have an upper limit. It extends to space.


Steve Shannon
 
Last edited:

cbrarick

Wildman CT
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
2,575
Reaction score
310
I'd respectfully disagree with plugger. We've already proven that solid rockets can reach that high. I think that a college group (with it's inherent turn-over) would be hard pressed to put together a program that would get them to using a large liquid motor. They should join TRA and set a long term research program that would allow them to obtain their goal.
Here in the US a flight like that is going to definitely be class 3. The TRA class 3 review committee is exceedingly helpful in getting that paperwork completed. I'm sure some smart college kids could get that done - eventually - but they would really find the help invaluable.

JMHO
 

boatgeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
3,183
Reaction score
1,660
Also to add on, if you were just doing LPR and MPR, I wouldn't recommend joining a local club or starting your own. Just go out and launch rockets when you can. The launch pads for those rockets are cheap, as are the controls. It's the HPR and waivers that make that more important. And for extreme flying, the people you'll meet at club launches (and probably Argonia) are invaluable for progressing to L3 in a couple of years so you can credibly look at very large 2+ stage rockets.

PS to Steve, For some reason, I think of Montana as west of Black Rock, though it probably isn't. :)
 

Steve Shannon

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2011
Messages
6,610
Reaction score
3,432
Location
Butte, Montana
Also to add on, if you were just doing LPR and MPR, I wouldn't recommend joining a local club or starting your own. Just go out and launch rockets when you can. The launch pads for those rockets are cheap, as are the controls. It's the HPR and waivers that make that more important. And for extreme flying, the people you'll meet at club launches (and probably Argonia) are invaluable for progressing to L3 in a couple of years so you can credibly look at very large 2+ stage rockets.

PS to Steve, For some reason, I think of Montana as west of Black Rock, though it probably isn't. :)
We're definitely north of Black Rock, but also east:





Steve Shannon
 

MClark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2009
Messages
2,692
Reaction score
771
Location
Glendale, AZ
Montana is also west of Black Rock, but the trip is very long.

At BALLS with special Board approval we have done motors that would not be allowed at other TRA launches, liquid, LOX hybrids etc. The BALLS waiver has been as high as 150km, the limits of FAA control.

M
 

1tree

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2011
Messages
297
Reaction score
0
Something worth noting is that it is easy to move between TRA and NAR for at least levels one and two. Thus you can start with the one most convenient, and move to TRA when your ready to start work with building motors. It might be worth having your group organized as a club for insurance reasons, or even resources. Both clubs make some resource available to their membership that aren't for general consumption.
 

Bat-mite

Rocketeer in MD
Joined
Dec 5, 2013
Messages
10,986
Reaction score
1,738
Location
Maryland
Another thing to consider is that NAR and TRA work with the BATFE to ensure that rocketry remains legal and affordable. They went to court to get APCP deregulated so that we can own and use reloadable motors without an explosives permit.
 

llickteig1

KLOUDBusters Chief Logistician
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Messages
1,670
Reaction score
357
Location
Wichita, KS
Hi Everyone,
I am the president of a rocketry club at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. I am also new to this forum so hello! I've been doing a lot of research on low/med/high powered rocket building and I've seen the issue of Tripoli and NAR certification pop up more than a few times. From what I've read both types of certification are friendly to individuals who build rockets and not as friendly to groups who want to build rockets as a team or a school (requiring the person seeking the certification to both build and launch their own rocket individually). Finally it is my understanding that such a certification is not legally required by the US Gov't to build and launch high powered rockets, however I do know that the FAA has certain permits that you have to obtain to fly such a rocket. My questions are this:


  1. Is Tripoli and NAR certification necessary to fly?
  2. What are the benefits of membership for a club?
  3. Are there legal ramifications if you don't have certification?
  4. How can a club obtain Tripoli certification for its members if the process requires each cert seeker to build and launch their own rocket (a prohibitive and expensive process for a group of 15)?
  5. Does certification ease the process of buying supplies or getting FAA waivers?

I'll post more questions as I think of them but I think that's plenty for now. I'd appreciate any insight and thank for the help in advance.
-James
I highly recommend you and some of your club attend AIRFest 23 at Argonia Sept. 1-4, 2017. You should plan on sitting down with some of the people from our club to discuss your goals and the path(s) to getting there. We can help you.

We have a number of college clubs/teams who have figured this out and attend our launches regularly. The certification thing isn't hard or even costly. It gets the members vested in the effort from early on. You should also participate in the Argonia Cup. www.argoniacup.com This event will give your team an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with clubs from other universities in the region and help you formulate your future direction.

You will have challenges getting an FAA waiver that rivals that of our launch site at Argonia. They don't pass them out like candy. Trust me on this. We have cultivated a very long-term relationship with the FAA through hard work by our Prefects over our almost 20 years of flying from the Argonia site. You can obtain a waiver if you find a suitable launch site in the Lawrence area. It will have a significantly lower ceiling.

The insurance provided by the national organizations is a very real thing and is why the members need to be certified. The university will not want to incur the liability of your launches and the national organization option is an asset you can leverage to convince administrators that KU won't be liable for your rocketry activities.

One thing I think you should ponder is, for continuity sake, it seems to help college/university clubs to have a faculty mentor/advisor/advocate and having that person certified is an added benefit. This way, as members come and go through their short stay at an institution, the mentor is there with a certification and the knowledge how to keep the club viable as the membership fluctuates over time.

I and the rest of the KLOUDBusters look forward to seeing you at AIRFest 23 and conversing about your club.

--Lance.
 
Last edited:

NateLowrie

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
667
Reaction score
4
My advise:
  • Fly with Kloudbusters in Argonia for all your test flights. The advantages to this approach are:
    • You don't have to negotiate a wavier.
    • You don't have to provide ground support equipment (but you can if you want to).
    • It has a suitable wavier (25k with 50k windows) to allow you to do all the system shakedown flights you need.
    • You can easily access knowledge from talented pool of flyers from the club.
    • You have extra help on flight days if you need it.
  • You are going to have to go to Black Rock for your 100km attempt as you will probably not get that high of a wavier anywhere in Kansas.
  • Join Tripoli for:
    • Access to commercial high power motors if you need them.
    • When you do your 100km attempt it will be a class 3 rocket. Tripoli helps you prepare and present the required paperwork and simulation data for that flight to the FAA.
 
Top