International competition brings together model rocket fliers from around the world for the highest level of challenge in the hobby. Outside the US, model rocket competition is very popular in eastern Europe, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and Japan. This section of the NAR website explains what it is all about and how to do it.
The World Space Modeling Championships (WSMC) is the Olympics of model rocketry competition, held every two years. The NAR selects and sends a United States Junior (age 18 and under as of the year of the WSMC) and Senior team each time, to compete against national teams from around the world. The WSMC provides a unique teamwork environment where U.S. members compete for both individual and team medals in event teams of three fliers each, with support from every other member of the whole U.S. Team not flying in that particular event. Each U.S. team member flies one or two of the eight events, and supports his or her teammates when they fly the other events. It is an amazing experience of camaraderie, teamwork, and interesting foreign travel for everyone on the team, and their accompanying family members.
About 25 countries have teams that fly in international competition. International model rocket competition is organized under the auspices of the FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale), the international body for aerospace competition and records. Under their rules it is called “spacemodeling”. An overview of international spacemodeling is provided on the FAI web site (https://www.fai.org/page/s-space-models).
International spacemodeling competition events are somewhat similar to NAR events (streamer duration, parachute duration, scale, and others). However, FAI events have model dimension requirements that lead to models and construction methods different from what is normally seen in NAR competition. The requirements are documented in the FAI Sporting Code for Space Models (the international equivalent of the NAR Pink Book). U.S. fliers generally use European-made rocket motors for the “1/2A” through “B” power class events when flying overseas, as these motors are custom-made for the unique characteristics of FAI models.
A World Spacemodeling Championships (WSMC) has been held by the FAI about every two years since 1972 (a separate class for Juniors began in 1994), normally in August or early September of even-numbered years. Since 1990 these have all been held somewhere in Europe, usually Eastern Europe. The eight events for a WSMC are defined in the FAI Sporting Code, are the same every time, and are the following:
- S1 – Altitude (S1A where the “A” refers to power class, 2.5 N-sec for Juniors; S1B, 5 N-sec for Seniors)
- S3 – Parachute Duration (S3A for Juniors and Seniors)
- S4 – Rocket Glider (free flight) (S4A for Juniors and Seniors)
- S5 – Scale Altitude (S5B for Juniors or 5 N-sec, S5C for Seniors, 10 N-sec)
- S6 – Streamer Duration (S6A for Juniors and Seniors)
- S7 – Scale
- S8 – Radio Controlled Rocket Glider (S8D for Juniors, S8E/P for Seniors)
- S9 – Gyrocopter (Helicopter) Duration (S9A for Juniors and Seniors)
- S2/P – Precision Fragile Payload (similar to TARC)
The most recent WSMC, the 22nd for Seniors and the 13th for Juniors, was held in Wloclawek, Poland July 27 – August 4, 2018. The next will be held in Romania August 21-27, 2021 (initially planned for Romania in August 2020 but postponed due to the COVID pandemic).
The U.S. Team for a WSMC is selected by a flyoff process that is held at the opening weekend of NARAM one year prior to the WSMC. The flyoff is open to all U.S. NAR members. Bulletin #1 for the 2020 U.S. Team (which has now become the 2021 Team), attached below, has complete details on the most recent fly-off. The next team-selection flyoff is anticipated to be in 2022 (NARAM-63) for a 2023 World Championships.
In between the biennial WSMC, regional FAI-sanctioned international competitions called “World Cups” are held each year, each with 4 or 5 of the 8 WSMC events. U.S. FAI fliers use these to practice their skills in preparation for a WSMC or for the US team-selection flyoff. Of the 25 or so that are held worldwide each year there are typically two of these held in the US. See the links below for more information about international spacemodeling competition and the World Spacemodeling Championships.
Two attachments below (called “World Champs Honors”) list all of the fliers from around the world who have won places at any of the World Spacemodeling Championships ever held. One is for Seniors and the other for Juniors. These were developed and are maintained by Antonio Mazzaracchio (Italy) and Alexander Mitiuriev (Russia). They also provide the dates and location of each World Championships — a very valuable resource.
If you would like to communicate with an experienced US FAI flier to get help in learning more about particular events or the whole process and experience of flying at a World Championships, use this list of contact information to reach them.
Use these links to find out more about how to be part of this fun and challenging rocketry activity.
- How to try out for the next US Team
- US FAI Spacemodeling Advisors (Sep 2018)
- How to build for and fly in WSMC events
- Traveling and operating overseas
- Construction techniques, technical information, and sources for supplies
- European motor information
- Past US teams – members and results
|Bulletin #1 - 2020 US Team||September 11, 2018, 1:02 am||134 KB|
|World Champs Honors (Seniors) through 2018||August 16, 2020, 12:13 pm||2 MB|
|World Champs Honors (Juniors) through 2018||August 16, 2020, 12:13 pm||435 KB|