Operations (Rules, Duties, Procedures)

We all appreciate the conduct of safe and well ordered launches. This requires some hard work and the participation of members. Please review the following documents and make sure you know what to expect.

Do you want to attempt your first or next Certification Level at the NSL? Be sure and review the HPR Certification During NSL: Procedures. And don’t forget the night launch!

We are expecting at least 150 flyers and families. If you are interested in help out with range duties – we welcome you to sign up to take one or more shifts. See all about it below. Click on the links below for:

Range Crew Volunteers & Duty Descriptions

For a launch of this size, it takes a teams of dedicated volunteers to keep the range running smoothly,. The launch range will be open for eight hours in the morning and early afternoon on Saturday and Sunday and six hours on Monday, plus about four hours for the night launch Saturday night. Working range duty for an entire launch session is very draining and can lead to carelessness and inefficiency, so we are dividing range duty into two hour shifts.

Although range duty by registered participants at NSL is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. Chilled bottled water sill be provided for free to all on-duty range volunteers. As an added incentive we are offering a special raffle just for range duty volunteers: a Mad Cow 2.6″ fiberglass Black Brant II kit. Anybody who volunteers for range duty will get one free raffle ticket for this kit for each shift worked.

A range duty shift schedule and sign-up sheet will be posted at the Officials’ Table adjacent to the Safety Check station. For key positions – such as Announcer, LCO, Pad Assignment, Pad Manager, Safety Check, or Registration – having previous range duty experience at these or similarly-titled positions is a must. If you are unsure of your qualifications for a specific range position, consult with one of the NSL event staff members. Use the following duty descriptions as a guideline.

Pad Assignment Officer

The Pad Assignment Officer works with all the other positions on the range to ensure a safe and steady launch:

  1. Must have extensive experience with range operations. Usually at least L2 certified.
  2. Monitors the status of both sides of the range and the available launch pads for each motor size and rod / rail type. Remains in the vicinity of the LCO and Announcer most of the time.
  3. Collects the flight cards from the rocketeers after Safety Check and assigns the appropriate pad.
  4. Directs the rocketeers to one side of the range towards the Pad Manager or directs them to wait near the spectator fence until the side opens and a Pad Manager is available.
  5. Hands over the flight cards, sorted by row and rack for one side, to the LCO as a sufficient number of pads have been filled. Not all pads need to have rockets loaded, depending on the number of flyers waiting and their motor sizes and rod / rail requirements.
  6. The Pad Assignment Officer on the main range coordinates with the M/N Range LCO to the North using the radio, informing the Main LCO and Announcer when the auxiliary ranges are ready to launch.

Launch Control Officer

The LCO works with the Pad Assignment Officer, Announcer, and Pad Managers to ensure safe and steady launch operations:

  1. Must be familiar with the launch control equipent and range layout. Usually at least L2 certified.
  2. Receives flight cards from the Pad Assignment Officer. Checks the order of flight cards before handing them to the Announcer.
  3. Advises the Pad Assignment Officer on which side of the range is open or closed.
  4. Launches each rocket only when safe to do so. May override the Announcer if the range is not safe. Checks the wind conditions to halt operations if the wind speed is exceeding or the wind direction is unsafe.

NOTE: The FAA Aircraft Watch requirement is the responsibility of all participants. The primary responsibility is filled by the LCO. Prior to each launch everyone is able to inform the LCO of aircraft traffic status in the vicinity.


The Announcer works directly for the LCO and performs all communications over the PA system:

  1. Maintains the flow of the launch by sustaining a safe launch rate while keeping the crowd informed of rockets prior to launch and during recovery. Special attention must be given to emergency situations.
  2. Must be familiar with the range layout and the schedule of other events and announcements.
  3. When advised, ensures raffle, contest, and other announcements are made between launches in a timely manner.
  4. Requests LCO, Pad Assignment Officer, and Chief RSO assistance as needed. Announces and launches rockets between other announcements. May interrupt lengthy announcements by others to keep the launch moving.
  5. When an auxiliary range is ready to launch, the Announcer will coordinate the countdown with the other range’s LCO and direct the attention of spectators to the appropriate direction of the launch.

Pad Manager

Each Pad Manager is responsible for an area of launch pads or launch racks, and works with the Pad Assignment Officer (on the main range) or LCO (on the M/N Range):

  1. Directs rocketeers to their assigned launch pad after they have completed safety check and have received their pad assignments from the Pad Assignment Officer. Must be certified at least at the level of rocket motors being launched on the pad area they will be assisting with.
  2. Responsible for “safeing” the launch system at the pads before that area is declared “open” by the LCO.
  3. Assists the flyers if they need help putting the rocket on the pad, connecting the igniter leads, checking continuity, or adjusting the rod or rail.
  4. Responsible for checking all rod / rail angles and directions to comply with range safety requirements.
  5. “Arm” all launch system boxes on that side of the range after all flyers assigned to that area have completed loading rockets on the pads. Informs the LCO that the side is armed and ready.

Safety Check Officer

The SCO examines a rocket to make sure it is in flight-worthy condition before the flyer is allowed into the pad area. An SCO should be certified L2 or higher through either the National Association of Rocketry or Tripoli Rocketry Association. An L1 individual can be on duty only if at least one other SCO on duty is L2.

  1. Confirm the the flyer is certified to fly the rocket/motor combination being presented. This can be verified via the flyer’s membership card from the NAR, TRA, or CAR.
  2. Make sure that the motor is mounted correctly, fins are secure, and launch lugs/rail buttons are attached correctly.
  3. Weigh the rocket and determine if the motor is appropriate for the rocket’s weight using the motor charts available at the RSO table.
  4. Verify that the motor being used is an approved rocket motor and provides a thrust to weight ratio (TWR) of greater than 4 and have a delay (or electronics) that will ensure safe recovery.
  5. Verify the stability of the rocket. The rocket should exhibit at least 2 calibers of static stability, or be of a proven design. If the rocket looks marginal the SCO can ask the flyer if the rocket has flown safely on the same motor or require proof of stability (simulation output).
  6. Verify that the rocket will not exceed the site altitude waiver.
  7. Verify that the igniter is not in the motor (for mid power and HPR). Verify electronics are not armed until on the pad.
  8. Determine if the recovery system will operate properly. Check with the individual to verify if they have the proper delay, fresh batteries, ejection charges, all connections made, etc.
  9. Determine if the flight will be a “HEADS-UP’. A heads-up flight includes but is not limited to the following: the first flight of a unique rocket, a rocket that is determined to be marginal in any way, a multiple-staged rocket, or a clustered rocket.
  10. Ensure that the flight data card is completely filled out. Note any special requirements or if it is a certification flight.
  11. Sign the card to certify that you have examined the rocket.

Registration Assistant and General Runner

Smooth operations at a large launch require additional assistance at the Registration table and for other tasks:

  1. Assist at the Registration Tent as needed during peak times in the event schedule, usually in the mornings.
  2. Help the Registration official hands out preregistered flyers’ packets, and sign up walk-up flyers.
  3. Sell raffle tickets. Help verify winning raffle tickets and distribute prizes.
  4. Coordinate between the Registration table, Official’s table, and Announcer as required for raffle drawings.
  5. A runner is needed for miscellaneous tasks, such as moving equipment, getting fresh batteries, and keeping the range volunteers supplied with cool bottled water.
  6. Fill in as needed for other range duty positions, such as Pad Manager when the range gets too busy. Range Setup and Teardown Assistance

If you will be at the range before 7 a.m. or can stay after the range closes in the afternoon, your help would be greatly appreciated. As with other regular duty shifts, a free raffle ticket will be given to those who help with setup and teardown.