SPACE EXPLORATION MERIT BADGE
Rocket Launch Checklists
Checklist 1: What to Bring...
- Your Rocket
- Launch Pad & Ignition System
- Rocket Motors
- Recovery Wadding
- Altitude Tracker
- Your Field Box
Also, it would be a good idea for the group to bring
- A folding card table or picnic table for rocket prep
- Trash Bags: try to leave your launch field cleaner than you found it.
- First Aid Kit: be prepared.
- A fly or tarp set up as a lean-to to protect the rocket prep area from the wind and/or sun.
Checklist 2: What to Put in Your Field Box
At least this is what I have in my field box...
- Swiss Army Knife: for all kinds of things
- A pair of slip-jaw pliers: for getting motors out of the rocket - some rockets
require these for getting the motors INTO the rocket as well, but for almost any
rocket the pliers seem to come in handy.
- A modeling knife: for those unexpected precision cutting & trimming jobs.
- Baby powder: for powdering the parachute to make sure it deploys properly and
- Extra Igniters (12 of them)
- Extra Wadding (two packs)
- Clothspins: for all kinds of things
- Tape measure: I use a 25-footer to mark off the distance for altitude trackers.
Two people can take the tape at each end and mark off 200-300 feet, 25 feet at a time.
- Stopwatch: for timing flights, countdowns, and 60-second wait periods on
- Sandpaper: also for helping motors into the rocket
- Superglue: for those fins occasionally dislodged by a sudden stop at the ground
- Masking tape: good for shimming parts to fit tighter, also good for taping on the
launch rod like a little flag to hold the rocket up off the pad (to avoid Bernoulli Lock). You can use the
clothspins for this, I use standoffs of various types for this.
- Cellophane tape (Scotch tape): for taping two-stage motors (booster & upper stage) together.
- Electrical tape: I use this to hold the film door securely on my Astrocam.
- Straws: for replacing lost launch lugs
- Extra shock cord
- Rubber bands
- Watercolor brush: I use this for cleaning the mirror on my Astrocam.
- Sun Block: time flies when you're having fun - before you know it, you're a crispy critter.
...and also bring a baseball cap to keep the sun out of your eyes.
I've discovered that sunglasses are a great thing to have for tracking rockets
against a bright sky.
Checklist 3: Rocket Launch...
- Rocket inspected by Range Control Officer
- Place rocket on launch rod
- Verify launcher is DISARMED
- Attach alligator clips to igniter leads
- Inform others that rocket is ready for
launch. Check with RCO for permission to
- RCO: "Next rocket to go is from launch
area number ___. Skies are clear.
Tracker(s) ready? "
- Trackers: "Ready"
- RCO: "Is everyone on the range watching?"
- Rocketeers: "WATCHING"
- RCO (after verifying that all eyes are on
the launch): "Range is go."
- You now may arm your launch controller
- RCO: "Time is running at
T-minus 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... START"
- RCO: "Model is coming up on peak.
MARK" (this is the point that altitude
- RCO: "Recovery system is deployed.
Descent looks good. Trackers, angles
- Trackers report altitude angle
Checklist 4: Rules of the Range
- During the countdown if something goes
wrong anyone on the range may yell
"HOLD" and the RCO will stop the
- During any terminal countdown stop what
you're doing and watch the model being
launched. Keep your eyes on it until you
know that the flight is going well and
where the model is going to land.
- IF THE ROCKET MISFIRES: start a timer
and wait 60 seconds before allowing anyone
to approach the launch pad. On our first
outing we had a misfire which then launched
5 seconds into our 60 second wait period.
This is an important rule.
- Don't engage in horseplay or practical
jokes on the range at any time, and don't
let others do it either.
- Don't recover someone else's model
unless you are asked to do so.
- Don't walk across launch areas - stay
between them or within one so you don't
trip over controller cables.
Checklist 5: Who to Bring...
I recommend three adults with a group of ten or so scouts:
- Adult #1: Range Control Officer
- Adult #2: Range Technical Support - helps scouts with their rocket prep
- Adult #3: Altitude Tracking - helps scouts on altitude tracking stations
One of the adults should also keep a flight log for the session. This
helps later in putting together the launch report for the troop, and for
determining awards for the rocketeers. For each flight, note the following
points (you'll be happy you did)
- Motor Type/Pad Number
- Tracker Angle
- Altitude (computed from tracker angle)
- Recovery Device Operation
- Performance Comments
- Condition After Recovery
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Your questions and comments regarding this page are welcome.
You can e-mail Randy Culp for inquiries,
suggestions, new ideas or just to chat.
Updated 8 September 2008