High Power Rocketry
High Power Rocketry, also known as HPR, is similar to model rocketry with differences that include the propulsion power and weight increase of the model. They use motors in ranges over “G” power and/or weigh more than laws and regulations allow for unrestricted model rockets. Like model rockets, High Power rockets are typically made of safer, non-metallic materials such as cardboard, plastic, and wood, however, construction and recovery techniques usually differ somewhat, due to the requirements imposed by the use of HPR motors. This means that these models must be constructed in such a way that they have the ability to safely fly under these higher stress conditions.
High Power rocket motors cannot be purchased over the counter by the general consumer and typically are not carried by your average hobby store. They can be mail-ordered or purchased at some launch sites by adult modelers who are High Power certified, which is a requirement to purchase and use them. The NAR offers a three level certification program for modelers who want to fly high power rockets. Also, High Power rockets must be flown in compliance with their own separate High Power Rocket Safety Code.
Launching High Power rockets requires more preparation than launching model rockets. Not only is a larger field needed, but FAA clearance must be arranged, well in advance of the launch date. There may also be local or state regulatory issues to be addressed before you can fly your first high power rocket. This is another good reason for joining a NAR Section — many organized clubs already have the personnel and experience in making these tedious arrangements, freeing you to concentrate on the actual flying.
Who Regulates High Power Rocketry?
High power rockets fall under a different code of regulations known as National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 1127. The NFPA’s current rocketry codes were first written in 1995 and recently updated. Many states have adopted it by reference through their adoption of NFPA 1, or by other means. You should check your own state’s laws before attempting to launch high power rockets.
In addition, you must apply for and receive an FAA waiver before launching high power rockets. The purpose of this waiver is to arrange for air traffic to be routed clear of your flight area.
Where Is The Line Between Model and High Power Rocketry?
A rocket exceeds the definition of a model rocket under NFPA 1122 and becomes a High Power rocket under NFPA 1127 if it:
- Uses a motor with more than 160 Newton-seconds of total impulse (an “H” motor or larger) or multiple motors that all together exceed 320 Newton-seconds;
- Uses a motor with more than 80 Newtons average thrust (see rocket motor coding);
- Exceeds 125 grams of propellant;
- Uses a hybrid motor or a motor designed to emit sparks;
- Weighs more than 1,500 grams including motor(s); or
- Includes any airframe parts of ductile metal.
In addition, a rocket exceeds the definition of a model rocket under FAA rules (FAR 101.22) if weighs more than 1500 grams (53 ounces).
How do I get started in High Power Rocketry?
The NAR offers a three tier certification program for adult members who wish to build and fly High Power rockets. Membership in the NAR empowers you to apply for HPR certification and NAR High Power certification is free to all adult NAR members. In addition, we offer a Junior HPR Participation Program for junior members from age 14 through 17 who would like to participate in High Power rocketry. Moreover, we have a Trained Safety Officer program, which is designed to assist individuals in performing safety officer functions on a High Power rocket range. We also have a complete set of technical reports regarding High Power rocketry topics. Simply choose one of the following links of interest for detailed information, procedures and application forms regarding our HPR services.
Junior HPR Participation Program
The NAR Jr. HPR Participation Program is offered to Junior/Leader members ages 14 through 17 so that they may fly rockets using H and I class motors. The Junior HPR participation program follows the same basic procedure used for the HPR certification for Senior NAR members. However due to legal restrictions pertaining to the purchase and possession of high power rocket motors, ejection charges and related items, there are additional requirements.
HPR Level 1 Certification
HPR Level 1 Certification allows the purchase and use of H and I impulse class motors, both solid and hybrid. In addition, certain F and G motors also require Level 1 certification for purchase and use, including hybrid motors, motors designed to emit sparks, and motors that exceed 80 Newtons average thrust, contain 125 or more grams of propellant, or are in rockets weighing more than 1500 grams.
HPR Level 2 Certification
HPR Level 2 Certification allows the purchase and use of J, K, and L impulse class motors.
HPR Level 3 Certification
HPR Level 3 Certification allows the purchase and use of M, N, and O impulse class motors.
Other HPR Resources
NAR members who are currently Tripoli Rocketry Association HPR certified may cross-certify with NAR at the same level by completing the identification portion of a NAR high power application and attaching proof of current Tripoli certification (e.g., photocopy of Tripoli consumer confirmation card) to NAR headquarters with a request that their certification level be updated.
NAR HPR certifications, once earned, are valid whenever NAR membership is current, and are reinstated after membership lapses.
Connect With NAR Local Clubs
- The NAR is all about having fun and learning more with and about High Power rockets. We are the oldest and largest sport rocketry organization in the world and our High Power programs cover ALL of the High Power activities you may wish to pursue. We recommend you get together with High Power rocket flyers in a NAR Section near your location; your HPR rocket designing, building, and flying experiences are always more fun when you can share your experiences and learn new techniques with your fellow local flyers. If you’d like to have a club closer to you, we’ll even show you how to start a new one!