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Are there different levels of rocketry?

Yes. Rockets found in the sport range from simple, slow, low flying rockets to high-tech, super sonic, high altitude rockets. At launches, one can see everything from simple, unpainted cardboard rockets made from items found around the house to beautifully constructed, complicated rocket kits and scratch built designs. They range in size from 5 inches to over 25 feet tall!

Rocketry organizations recognize five classifications of rockets, as outlined below, based on motor size or propellant weight. In addition to motor size, Model Rocket classification also takes into account the size of the rocket itself. Model Rockets are those that weigh up to one pound and use up to 4oz. of propellant. Large Model Rockets weigh up to 3.3 pounds and can utilize up to 4.4oz. of propellant. Any rocket flying on more than 4.4 oz. of propellant is considered a High Power Rocket. High Power Rockets, or Sport Rockets, are generally larger than Model Rockets and fly on motors larger than H. Rocket motors are double in size by letter with a full B motor being twice the total impulse of a full A, a full C twice the total impulse of a full B, etc. Model Rockets primarily use single use, disposable motors; High Power Rockets typically use reloadable rocket motors utilizing reusable hardware.

Experimental Rocketry, while less common than Model or High Power Rocketry, has had a consistent following since the 1950s when commercial hobby and sport rocket motors were not yet available. You may have seen the movie October Sky in which Homer Hickam and friends experimented with some of the first rockets. Today there are many commercial motor manufacturers from which most hobby and sport rocketeers purchase motors. However, some rocketeers continue to pursue the development of new formulas, creating new colors and other characteristics. Some of these new designs are later re-produced by commercial manufacturers.

While Amateur Rockets are not specific to size, most rocketeers reserve the category for rockets flying on motors sized O and larger. To date, rocket motors as large as R have been flown by sport rocketry enthusiasts.

  • Model Rocket (MR) Weight is a maximum of 1 pound. Motors use 4 oz or less of propellant.
  • Large Model Rocket (LMR) Are actually sort of a cross between model and high power. Weight is a maximum of 3.3 pounds. The motors use from 4 oz. to 4.4 oz of propellant. Anything more than 4.4 oz of propellant constitutes a High Power rocket.
  • High Power Rocket (HPR) Any size rocket using commercially available APCP or Hybrid motors from "H" to "O" power
  • Experimental Rocket (EXP) Any size rocket using APCP or Hybrid motors built by the rocketeer from "H" to "P" power
  • Amateur Rocket Any size rocket using any size or type of motor

Several things must be made clear. No rocket can have any sort of guidance system, the rocket must point within 20 degrees of straight up and absolutely no animals can be launched in a rocket.

Rocketry creates new challenges, breeds invention and gives thinkers and innovators a creative outlet a bone to chew on.

Please note. There are more details to be learned about these classifications. Its been kept simple here to help you understand the basics. Each group has some slight differences in their rules.

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