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SARA Night Launch Safety Rules

posted Sep 9, 2016, 6:02 PM by James Cramton   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 10:54 PM ]
At a time when some clubs are cancelling night launches, SARA is proud to bring this spectacular opportunity to fly sport rockets at night, or to just watch the wonder of rockets launching into the night sky. But to help ensure the safety of all spectators and participants in SARA night launch operations, we have defined the following range safety protocols that will be in place at all SARA night launches. Please read carefully if you plan to attend the night launch, as some of these rules will require advanced planning. Be prepared.
  • Drones: There shall be no night flights of drone, quadcopter, UAV, model airplane, or other remote controlled aircraft anywhere at the TIMPA facility during SARA launches, day or night.

  • Personal Visibility: All participants who enter the range--either the launch pad area or downrange to recover rockets--are required to wear reflective vests and a light emitting source; red lighting is preferred. Personal light sources may be battery powered lights or chemical glow sticks. 
  • Rocket Lighting: All rockets, regardless of size, must be actively lighted to be visible at night from at least 300 feet away. Lights must be visible all the way up and all the way down. All separable sections must comply with lighting requirements independently of each other. Glowsticks do not meet this requirement. LEDs can meet this requirement, but they must be properly secured to the model.

  • High Power Rocket Lighting: High power rockets must have dual redundant lighting systems. Redundant means no shared power supplies, switches, etc. The RSO will need to see each circuit illuminated independently, so no single point of failure can cause a failure of all lighting systems. At least one of the circuits should flash, strobe, or blink. High power rockets must be checked in with the RSO before dark.
  • Night Launch Motor Impulse: No motors larger than K impulse.

  • Night Launch Ceiling: 3000 feet above ground level is the maximum permissible altitude.
  • Night Launch Complex Rockets: No complex (staged or clustered) rockets.  

  • Sparkies: The use of spark producing motors is subject to the Range Safety Officer's review of field conditions.  Do not automatically assume that spark producing motors may be flown.
  • Firearms: No firearms or other weapons are allowed at the TIMPA facility. 
There are many reasons behind these rules, and we have done our best to keep the rules simple and limited in scope, without compromising safety. But some of these rules deserve a bit more explanation:
  • The airspace is reserved exclusively for model rocket flights authorized by the Range Safety Officer (RSO) and under the control of the Launch Control Officer (LCO). Launch operations will stop if any unauthorized aircraft are in the area. Operators of remote controlled aircraft will be asked to leave.

  • The reflective vest and personal light requirement is to ensure that the LCO can see anyone who is at the launch pads or down range recovering a rocket. Inexpensive vests and lights are available online, commonly sold for biking, running or walking. The RSO will not permit anyone on the range who is not clearly visible at a distance.
  • Glowsticks do not produce sufficient light to track a rocket--particularly a model that does not deploy a recovery device. Small, inexpensive LED lights  are available online, but they must be properly secured to the model.
  • Individuals may have vests and lighting to loan or sell at the event, but do not count on others to help you comply with these rules. Be prepared and bring your own supplies. 

If you have questions about these rules, please email rangeops@sararocketry.org beforehand or see the Range Safety Officer on the night of the launch.