How to Launch a Model Rocket
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Launch Equipment

To launch a model rocket it is extremely important to select and prepare an appropriate launch site for the size of model rockets that are going to be flown. Once a site is chosen, setup the launch system and establish boundaries of where people are allowed to be during a launch. Next prepare the rocket for launch by installing the model rocket engine, and wadding if required. Place the rocket on the launch pad and connect the launch controller to the igniter. From a safe distance, use the launch controller and count down 5.... 4.... 3.... 2.... 1.... LAUNCH!

Always follow the NAR Model Rocketry Safety Code to assure a safe model rocket launch.

Select and Prepare the Launch Site

Launch Site Selection

Choose a large field away from power lines, trees, or buildings. The larger the launch site chosen, the better chance of recovering the model rocket for additional launches.

School playgrounds, football fields, and parks can be a great site for a model rocket launch. Make sure that the area is free of anything the may catch fire, like dry plants or grass, or any other flammable materials.

Launch Site Size

Engine Size Rocket Altitude Minimum Launch Area
1/2A 200' 50' by 50'
A 400' 100' by 100'
B 800' 200' by 200'
C 1600' 400' by 400'
D 2000' 500' by 500'

It is always better to have too big of a launch site than too small of one. Many model rockets use a parachute for recovery, and often these rockets descend so slowly that they are very susceptible to drifting far away with even the slightest wind present.

Launch Site Preparation

Once the launch site is selected, chose a central location for the launch system, from which the rockets will be launched. Establish boundaries at a safe distance for onlookers to remain behind. Set positions for several trackers to be positioned to track the rocket during flight since some rockets are so fast, or fly so high, it often takes several people to track down the rocket.

Prepare the Launch System


The launch pad should be placed on firm stable ground in a central position in the launch site. Double check to make sure that the launch pad and launch controller are in working order and are free of damages or defects.

Make sure that you have the appropriately sized launch pad for the model rocket that is being launched. Some rockets require a thicker launch rod or even a longer launch rod, depending of the weight of the rocket and the strength of the rocket engine.

Many launch pads require some assembly, so this should be done before preceding to preparing the model rocket for launch.

Prepare the Rocket for Launch

  • Insert recovery wadding into the rocket from the top (nose-cone) end.
  • Fold and insert the recovery system making sure it fits loosely into the body tube.
  • Place nose cone back on.
  • Install the igniter into the model rocket engine
  • Insert the engine into the engine mount.


  • Slide the rocket over the launch rod of the launch pad, until it rests on the deflector plate.
  • Connect the launch controller to the igniter.
  • Step back a safe distance.
  • Press and hold the safety key.

5.... 4.... 3.... 2.... 1.... Launch!!

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