The NAR was created in 1957 as an advocate of the model rocketry hobby. Over the past four decades the hobby has grown to encompass rocket motor types and performance unavailable to the modeler at the NAR’s inception. In response to this growth the NAR offers a certification process which permits individuals to purchase and use rocket motors whose physical constraints and performance exceed traditional model rocket boundaries. Rocket motors which exceed model rocketry motor definitions and the models that use these motors are collectively referred to as high power rocketry. Certification for high power rocketry consists of three progressive levels:
- Level 1 allows the purchase and use of H and I impulse class motors; solid and hybrid. Certain F and G motors may also require Level 1 certification for purchase and use.
- Level 2 allows the purchase and use of J, K, and L impulse class motors; solid and hybrid.
- Level 3 certification allows the purchase and use of M, N, and O impulse class rocket motors; solid and hybrid.
The procedures for Level 1 certification are documented below. Level 2 certification requires that you hold a valid Level 1 certification before applying. You can examine the HPR Level 2 Certification Procedures for more information, as well as review the HPR Level 2 Study guide. Level 3 certification requires in-process reviews of the certification model’s design and construction prior to flight. Level 3 certification is covered in an application separate from the Level 1 and Level 2 paperwork. Please note that the NAR high power certification is only one consideration when purchasing and using high power rocket motors. Compliance with local and state laws as well as federal regulations (e.g., FAA FAR Part 101, NFPA 1127, etc.) is also required. High Power certification is intended to provide a measure of the modeler’s competence to avoid gross violations of good modeling practice and safe model operation. The program is not foolproof. A single demonstration of a modeler’s skills does not guarantee consistent safe performance. The certification program does not replace competent range personnel (note that high power range safety officers will require high power certification per NFPA 1127) to provide assurance of safe models and operating practices.
Questions about any of the below content should be directed to the HPR Services Chairman.
High Power Certification is required if a person wishes to:
- Launch rockets containing multiple motors with a total installed impulse of 320.01 Newton-seconds or more, or
- Launch rockets containing a single motor with a total installed impulse of 160.01 Newton-seconds or more, or
- Launch rockets that weigh more than 53 ounces (1500 grams), or
- Launch rockets powered by motors not classified as model rocket motors per NFPA 1122, e.g.:
- Average thrust in excess of 80.0 Newtons
- Contains in excess of 125 grams of propellant
- Hybrid rocket motors
- The individual seeking Level 1 High Power certification must be a minimum of 18 years old at the time of certification. A copy of a government-issued identification can be used for proof of age.
- A flier seeking HP Certification must be a member in good standing of the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). Evidence of NAR membership will be requested prior to the certification attempt. Acceptable evidence of membership includes but is not limited to the NAR membership card, a canceled check or email receipt indicating payment of membership fees, or participation in a NAR event where membership status is verified and indicated on the event materials.
- Motors used for certification attempts must be currently certified by the NAR, or by another organization (e.g., Tripoli) with a recognized certification program. Manufacturer’s designations, not certification test data, will be used to identify suitability for the certification level being attempted (e.g., an H128 is an H, a G75 is a G).
- NOTE: This document does not supersede any requirements imposed by the authorities having jurisdiction. Other requirements may be imposed by state, or non-USA authorities.
- The certification team consists of two individuals who are a minimum of 18 years old and are members in good standing of the NAR. The certification team members must be unrelated to the applicant. Members of Tripoli, unless they are also members of the NAR, cannot participate on a certification team.
- At least one of the team members must be already certified to a level equal to the certification level being attempted, e.g., a team member must be certified at Level 1 to judge another individual’s Level 1 certification attempt.
- Level 1 certifications may be administered by a single NAR Level 2 certified individual; the two certified individuals requirement is waived in this case.
- Certification attempts must be witnessed in person by the certification team. Video recordings of a certification flight are not acceptable.
Certification Process and Documentation
- Certification may be accomplished at any launch where sufficient individuals meeting the requirements of section 2 are available.
- FAA regulations requiring notification or waivers must be complied with and the launch site must have a FAA waiver for high power models (greater than 3.3 pounds launch weight and/or 4.4 ounces of propellant) in effect at the time of launch. All conditions and restrictions imposed by the FAA must be satisfied and followed.
- The member attempting certification must build the rocket that they wish to use for their certification attempt. The model may be either scratch built or a kit and the rocket must be constructed in such a manner that it will perform safely under the additional stress of an HPR motor. Teams attempting to certify cannot use the same rocket, but rather are required to each build their own model. In addition, the member must use an active recovery system for their certification attempt, which usually includes parachute recovery; details of these recovery methods are described in the Definition of Active Recovery.
- The modeler must demonstrate his ability to build and fly a rocket containing at least one H or I impulse class motor. Cluster or staged models used for certification may not contain over 640.00 Newton seconds total impulse. In the case of a cluster or staged model, at least one of the individual motors must be an H or I impulse motor. Combinations of smaller impulse motors that add up to meet the impulse requirements do not qualify as the model does not contain at least one H or I impulse motor. Single use, reloadable, or hybrid technology motors are permitted. The modeler must assemble the reloadable motor, if used, in the presence of a certification team member.
- The individual attempting certification must also complete a NAR High Power Certification Application prior to his certification attempt.
- The model will be subjected to a safety inspection prior to flight. The safety inspection form is on the back of the NAR High Power Certification Application. During the safety inspection the modeler will be expected to provide oral answers to technical questions related to the safety and construction of his model. The questions may include (but not limited to) identification of the model’s center of gravity and center of pressure, methods used to determine model stability, and interpretation of the rocket motor’s designation. The certification team will initial (or check) the blocks indicating that model safety, motor certification, and the existence of a FAA waiver (if required) in effect were verified prior to flight.
- The individual will fly his model. The flight must be witnessed by the certification team members. Stability, deployment of the recovery system, and safe recovery should be considered when evaluating safety of the flight. Models experiencing a catastrophic failure of the airframe, rocket motor, and/or recovery system (e.g., shock cord separation) will not be considered as having a safe flight.
- The model must be returned to the certification team after flight. and be inspected to verify engine retention and for evidence of flight-induced damage. The certification team will initial the blocks indicating that a safe flight was made and that the post-flight inspection was satisfactory. In general, the guideline for acceptable flight damage is that the model could be flown again without repair. It is left to the judgement of the certification team to differentiate between flight damage and “normal” maintenance to assure reliability (e.g., shock cord replacement to prevent future flight problems). “Zippering” of the body tube is another area of flight damage left to certification team judgement for acceptability.
- The certification team will sign the certification sheet to indicate that the certification attempt was successfully completed. Both the certification sheet and the certification card must be signed. The certification card and the certification sheet are normally returned to the certifying individual after the flight. At club launches or NAR sponsored activities (e.g., NARAM, NSL) the certification sheets may be retained by the event sponsors to be sent to NAR Headquarters. In that event, only the temporary NAR HPR Certification Verification card is returned to the certifying individual.
- The certification application is returned to NAR Headquarters by either USPS or Email. No fees are required. The certification appication must be returned by the certified individual or the event sponsors to NAR Headquarters to allow updating the NAR database. The release of a new NAR membership card will be initiated showing the new certification level upon receipt of the certification paperwork (please allow 4-5 weeks for delivery before contacting NAR Headquarters about missing cards).
- NOTE: Certification Candidates and Certification Team Members – When submitting completed high power certification documents to NAR HQ via email, please send the documents for only one (1) candidate per email. Multiple certification packets should be submitted using separate emails. Also, when scanning the documents, try to keep the file size as small as possible without sacrificing the quality/legibility (i.e. make sure that they are readable as well as fully completed before submitting).
- The temporary NAR HPR Certification Verification card is valid for 60 days after the certification date or until the end of the NAR member’s membership, whichever comes first. The temporary card is recognized as proof of the certification level. The Certification Verification card should be destroyed upon receipt of a new NAR membership card which shows the HPR certification level.
- Falsification of data or statements by the certifying individual will result in revocation of the high power certification. Falsification of data or statements by the certification team, e.g., failure to secure a FAA waiver, can result in revocation of the team members’ NAR memberships.
- NAR members who are currently Tripoli Level 1 certified may grandfather at the NAR Level 1 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.
- Tripoli certifications will be honored at NAR launches. A current Tripoli Membership Card is required as evidence of Tripoli high power certification at launches.
- NAR HPR certifications, once earned, are valid whenever NAR membership is current, and are reinstated upon request after membership lapses.
Revision of May 12, 2021