2nd Annual SEDS High-Powered Rocketry Competition Announcement

January 16, 2012 in News, Press Releases by SEDS Projects

SEDS-USA is happy to announce the 2nd annual SEDS High-Powered Rocketry Competition.  The goal of this competition is to design, construct, and launch a high-powered rocket carrying a minimum .5 kg payload to a height of 3050 meters (10,000 feet) above ground level, as measured by a standard altimeter.  A design report will be due to the Competition Coordinator at the beginning of April and all teams must launch and submit final documentation by July 30th, 2012.  The winning chapters will be announced at SpaceVision 2012.


  1. This competition is open to participation at no cost to Students for the Exploration and Development of Space USA chapters. If non-SEDS USA chapter student groups or organizations wish to participate in the competition, a $20 entry fee is required. Contact projects@seds.org for details.
  2. All designs must use our new standard altimeter, the PerfectFlite Stratologger. The altimeter needs to be tested prior to installation to ensure it is working condition, with documentation submitted to the Competition Coordinator for confirmation. NOTE: The PerfectFlite MAWD is no longer in production which lead to the change in altimeter.
  3. All rockets must not exceed a maximum total impulse of 5,120 Newton-seconds (maximum motor size of Class L). All rockets must carry a payload of at least .5 kilograms in order to be judged.
  4. Scoring:
    1. Launches at or above the 3050 meter goal
      1. All teams achieving the set goal of 3050 meters will receive 10 points.
      2. At completion of the active portion of the competition, total rocket masses will be compiled into a descending list by mass. Starting with the heaviest qualifying rocket (receiving 0 points for weight), each successively lighter rocket down the list will receive an additional point (ie, the 6th heaviest rocket will receive an additional five points added its score)
      3. 2 additional points will be granted for any team that includes a launch camera as part of their payload. This camera must successfully record footage for the majority of the flight
      4. Up to 8 additional points may be awarded for unique payload data acquisition (2 points awarded per sensor, data must be included in final documentation).  Possible payload sensors may include: GPS, gyro, pressure, temperature, relative humidity, solar irradiance and ultra-violet radiation sensors.
    2. Launches below the 3050 meter goal
      1. For launches failing to make the 3050 meter goal, a score out of 10 points will be granted based on the ratio of the altitude achieved to the maximum altitude, rounded to the nearest second decimal (ie, a 2000 meter launch will result in a score of 6.56 points).
    3. Final scores from the three categories will be collated and used to determine the final standings and winner of the competition.
    4. In order to compensate for the effects of launches at high-altitude launch sites, .0002 times your launch altitude in feet will be subtracted from your score. This offsets the much reduced engine/ vehicle mass necessary to achieve the 10,000-feet above ground level target height at these higher altitudes.
  5. All “competition” launches will be conducted locally by the build team. However, a representative from a competing team must be present at the launch to confirm fair practice.
    1. If no competing team members are capable of attending the launch, stand-in representatives from other nearby SEDS chapters, SEDS affiliates, or industry members can be discussed with the Competition Coordinator if notified at least a month prior to launch.
    2. In the case of a previously indicated representative not attending the arranged launch day, the Competition Coordinator must be contacted immediately in order to discuss emergency representative selection.
    3. Note: An acceptable alternative to having another team representative visit, as well as an acceptable alternative to having to go through much of the necessary launch paperwork, is to coordinate with a local Tripoli/ NAR chapter and launch on one of their launch days. A member of these organizations can act as an independent judicator on your launch if the Competition Coordinator is contacted a month prior.
    4. Note: SEDS-USA highly encourages chapters to perform regional launches together. This reduces the amount of paper work and traveling for everyone involved, and is a lot more fun!
  6. All launches must be performed entirely through rocketry; no specialty launch systems (ie, Rockoon, projectile launching) are permitted.
  7. All rockets must be successfully recovered with minimal damage. Successful recovery much be documented by the team and the competing team representative.
  8. All teams seeking to participate must contact the Competition Coordinator to indicate their interest by March 9th, 2012.  A design report will be due on April 6th, 2012.  These deadlines are firm to allow teams ample time to build and launch their rockets before the final documentation due date  of July 30th, 2012.
    1. The design report should consist of the team’s rocket design, how they plan to build the rocket, and a flight plan. Information should include components, anticipated performance, assembly steps, CAD model, as well as at least two possible launch: sites, representatives, and dates.
    2. All teams must record (via digital video camera) and/or photograph the design and construction of their vehicle, as well as its launch which should be submitted with final documentation.
    3. Launch dates, representative identities, as well as launch results / finalized altimeter and weight information must be submitted to the Competition Coordinator as soon as possible after they have been acquired.
  9. All teams and launches must abide by local laws and FAA regulations for unmanned rocket launches. Safety must take the highest priority in launch preparations. Local laws must be researched by participating groups.  The National Association of Rocketry has a list of FAA regulations that you may wish to read thoroughly.
    1. Notable FAA Regulations
      1. Proper notification to the nearest FAA ATC facility must be performed no less than 24 hours prior to launch.
      2. For all FAA Class-2 Launches, authorization for launch must be applied for at least 45 days prior to launch.
      3. No launches when clouds or other obscuring phenomena of more than five tenths coverage prevails, where horizontal visibility would be less than five miles during launch
      4. No operation of rockets in clouds, or between sunset and sunrise
      5. No operations within 8 miles of any airport boundary without prior FAA authorization
      6. Reasonable fire-prevention / control precautions must be taken
    2. Notable BATFE Regulations
      1. You can purchase any APCP motor or reload kit without a BATFE permit.
      2. Though nearly all ammonium perchlorate composite rocket motors are unregulated, some items commonly used in high powered rocketry are regulated by the BATFE. These include igniters (this includes electric matches), igniter cord (the now very hard to find thermalite), and black powder (for separation charges).
      3. Black powder is generally easy to buy, BUT if you run afoul of the law with a can of BP in your car you could be charged with illegal transport of explosives.  An alternative to Black Pyrodex and other Black Powder Substitutes are often used in rockets, as they are classified under smokeless powder regulations as opposed to Black powder regulations.
      4. Federal law prohibits transportation of explosives by anyone other than an BATFE permittee/licensee. (With an exception for commercial transport via common carriers like FedEx)
      5. You can apply for an BATFE permit to store regulated explosives in a magazine locally. This process and instructions are available at http://www.atf.gov/
      6. An easy way to avoid BATFE issues is to participate in a rocket launch supported by an BATFE-regulated rocket motor vendor. The vendor is normally able to drive motors and igniters to the launch for you to buy on site and use on site at the launch in your rocket.
  10. It is strongly encouraged that competing teams compile rocket build, launch and analysis data into a formal report that includes: all launch details, rocket weight readings, altimeter heights, rocket launch witness verifications and other documentation.  The Competition Coordinator reserves the right to award up to an additional 2 points for adhering to a formal documentation process.
  11. Launch data must be submitted to the Competition Coordinator by July 30th, 2012 in order to be judged. Winners will be announced November 11th, 2012 at SpaceVision 2012.  It is encouraged that competing teams attend SpaceVision 2012 but teams that will not be able to attend should contact the Competition Coordinator.
  12. Information on prizes will be made available ASAP but may include: tickets to a luncheon event with VIPs at SpaceVision 2012, free registration to a space conference of your choosing (SpaceVision, International Space Development Conference (ISDC), NewSpace, or SpaceUp), discounts on future rocket parts, t-shirts or other chapter awards.

Competition CoordinatorMichael Zwach, Director of National Projects


Legal Disclaimer: The legal points outlined here are guidelines, and are not intended to be a comprehensive description of the laws surrounding rockery.  High power rocketry is a dangerous sport if done incorrectly, and you, the launcher, are responsible for all state, federal, and local rules surrounding the launching of rockets.  SEDS-USA  is not responsible for any damage or loss.  Use your head, SAFETY FIRST.