Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

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Greg O'Bryant
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Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Greg O'Bryant » Thu Jun 23, 2005 5:28 am

Hay I was wondering if anybody has the current federal laws on producing and storing homemade rocket propellant and engines. I use to make sucrose rocket engines as a kid but gave up the hobby. I was thinking that it may be fun to get back in to it, but I know people tend to take things a lot more personal now after 911, ecspeccially the government, and that the ATF has changed some of its laws in accordance to homeland security. I think that they even listed potasium nitrate as an explosive on their page. So before I get back into this I would like to know if it is even still possible to build your own rocket engines? Of course I would have to look up all stae and county laws on my own, but some general direction would be helpful.

Hank
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Hank » Wed Jul 06, 2005 3:22 pm

Greg, At this point you might be more concerned with personal safety. The people who have made it their buisness to regulate you don't have a clue.

Greg O'Bryant
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Greg O'Bryant » Thu Jul 07, 2005 3:45 am

Hank;
Thanks for the reply I agree with you that they don't have a clue, but i have worked to long and hard to get where I am in life to risk going to jail or getting any negative publicity. I may actually atempt talking to the stae fire marshall, but I don't have high expectations about this!

Ray
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Ray » Thu Jul 07, 2005 4:08 pm

Are you in the USA?

If so, regulations have changed a lot!

NAR and Tripoli are the two national organizations that deal with rocketry. I would suggest going to their websites and browsing around. They have quite a bit of information on the regulations controlling the hobby.

In short, the FAA says nothing over 1 lbs or 4 oz of "slow burning propellant" without some sort of notification.

The ATF says any motor that uses APCP that is fully assembled is exempt from regulation and storage, actually a judge ruled that, not sure the ATF agrees.

Any APCP reload kit that uses grains that weigh less than 62.5g are exempt from regulation and storage.

APCP reload kits that have grains larger than 62.5g require a low explosive users permit.

Hybrid motors are not regulated, yet.

Black powder motors are not regulated yet.

Sugar motors are not regulated yet.

You can make your own motors, most of the individual chemicals are not regulated. You aren't required to have a LEUP and storage until they are completed grains ready for loading in a motor.

Lots of info out there in the subject. This is a very brief summary. Do your research prior to starting, just to stay in compliance with the regulations.

Don't do Sugar, do AP motors. Buy some books on the subject, Terry McCreary's "Experimental Composite Propellant" is one of the best.

Mark
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Mark » Fri Jul 08, 2005 3:03 am

For some reason it occurred to me, I wonder what has been the largest sugar and KNO3 rocket motor fired? I've lit ten pounds at once and it made a lot fire and smoke.
Mark
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Greg O'Bryant
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Greg O'Bryant » Fri Jul 08, 2005 3:38 am

I like the sucrose rockets becuase of how easy it is to make the propellant and how every time you make it it is the exact same. It burns very consistently with every batch. this means you can make very good and reliable engines. I think the largest amount that I ever lit was a 32 oz paper drink cup packed full (about 6-8 lb). It made so much smoke that you couldn't see my house from the street and all of the neighbor kids came running from a few blocks away!
Ray (AP) do you mean ammonium perchlorate?
I could try some but the sucrose is just sooo easy and cheap to make. I do live in the US and thanks to your advice I will check out NAR and Tripoli sound like a good place to start.

Ray
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re: Laws and regulations for making home made rockets(US)

Post by Ray » Fri Jul 08, 2005 3:25 pm

Yeah, I am refering to Ammonium Perchlorate.

I have been around a lot of EX (self made) motors. I have seen a lot of CATO's. Fully 50% of the sugar motors I have seen have CATO'd. Less than 10% of the AP motors have had problems.

Other downsides to Sugar motors is Low ISP, you have to heat an Oxidizer and fuel that are mixed, that just makes me nervous. HOT propellent burns badly when in contact with skin.

AP has downsides as well. Cost is higher than Sugar, but still not too bad ($0.01/g). Chemicals are harder to come by and equipment requriements are significant, mixer, vacuum pump, accurate scale, casting stands, etc. My buddies and I have around $1800 in equipment alone.

I've seen "L" and "M" class sugar motors...and "P" class AP motors...both exciting.

AP is a very consistant propellant to make, you just have to be careful with the weighing out of the chems. Sugar is much the same. AP is not Hygroscopic, Sugar is...storage of AP motors is easy, Sugar you have to account for water...

GET THE BOOK I MENTIONED. Even though it deals primarily with AP motors (using R20 rubber, most formulas you'll get are R45), it includes a LOT of information about how a motor works, how to characterize them, etc. Invaluable to anyone that makes motors. I won't share any formulas with anyone that hasn't READ this book.

If you want to do EX motors join Tripoli, they have sanctioned launches for experimental propellant, and insurance that covers you at them. There are tons of people that will share info with you, after you show them you aren't an idiot. They'll be reticent until you demonstrate your willingness to start small, work methodically, and make incremental steps in the learning process. Buying the book, asking intelligent questions etc will get you into the "click" quicker. Don't just show up and say, "I want to make a rocket motor, can you show me how?"

good luck and have FUN!

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