Friends of Amateur Rocketry, Inc.
Serving the Amateur Rocketry  Community

Encouraging Amateur Rocketry to Educate the Public

Are Rockets Safe?

All rockets are safe when handled properly.

1. Bi-propellant rockets are the safest. You can design, build, and transport these rockets without any hazards. These rockets become unsafe when loading fuel, loading oxidizer, inserting the igniter, pressurizing the propellant tanks, igniting the igniter, and opening the main valves.  All of the unsafe parts are done out at FAR site under the supervision of a state licensed pyrotechnic operator. Loading fuel, loading oxidizer, and inserting the igniter are done by key personnel with observers clear of the launch pad.  All the remaining hazardous operations like pressurizing propellants, ignition, and opening the main valves are done by remote control with all personnel in bunkers.

2. Hybrid rockets are safe. You can design, build, and transport without any hazards. They are safe when you load the fuel grain. They become unsafe when you load the oxidizer. If you use nitrous oxide, it is at high pressure. Loading the oxidizer, igniting the igniter, and opening the main valve can all be done by remote control with all personnel in the bunkers.

3. Commercial solid rockets are fairly safe. You can design, build, and transport the rocket without the motor and without any hazards. It only becomes unsafe when you assemble the rocket motor, put the rocket motor in the rocket, put an igniter in the rocket motor, and ignite the motor. All of the unsafe parts are done out at FAR site under the supervision of a state licensed pyrotechnic operator. Assembling the motor, inserting the motor in the rocket, and inserting the igniter are done by key personnel with observers clear of the launch pad.  The remaining hazardous operation of ignition are done by remote control with all personnel at a safe distance from the rocket or in bunkers.

Most motor manufacturers like to treat solid propellant as 1.3c explosives. FAR has an explosives permit. You can order and pay for a commercial solid motor and send it to FAR.   Ignition is done with the people at a safe distance or in a bunker.

4. Experimental solid rockets are safe. You can design, build, and transport the rocket without the motor and without any hazards. It only becomes unsafe when you mix and assemble the rocket motor, put the rocket motor in the rocket, put an igniter in the rocket motor, and ignite the motor. All of the unsafe parts are done out at FAR site under the supervision of a state licensed pyrotechnic operator. Mixing the propellant, assembling the motor, inserting the motor in the rocket, and inserting the igniter are done by key personnel with observers clear of the preparation area and launch pad.  The remaining hazardous operation of ignition are done by remote control with all personnel in bunkers.

California likes to treat experimental solid propellants as 1.3c low-explosives. FAR has an explosives manufacturing permit. You can mix and store the experimental solid motor in an explosives magazine at FAR.