Meet The Low-Power Safety Check Officer (LP-SCO)

(Orange Vest)

Image Prerequisites: The LP-SCO does not need to be an experienced rocketeer but should be at least high-school age, 15 years or more, and have built and flown two or three rockets. If you have never done this job before you can be trained in about 5 minutes.

The LP-SCO inspects all low-power rockets prior to flight to determine if they are safe to fly. If they are judged safe, LP-SCO initials the flight card and gives it back to the rocketeer who then proceeds to the pad assignment line. If we are not busy, the LP-SCO may pass the card directly to the Pad Assignment Director or may do the pad assignments himself if we are short handed.

Low power rockets are any rocket with less than 80 Newton-seconds of impulse. Rockets with A, B, C, D or E engines qualify as low power and may fly from our low-power pads. Rocketeers with F or G engines are assigned to the Mid-power pads. Rocketeers with larger engines (H and above) must go through the high-power safety check. If, in the opinion of the LP-SCO, the rocket is not safe to fly, he will tell the owner what the problem is and help them out if we are not busy. We have a "fix it" box of glue, tape, and common repair items at the safety check table to use to fix small problems. If we are busy, you can almost always find an experienced rocketeer standing in line who is willing to help the person out. If you are unsure about the safety of a rocket, ask one of the more experienced rocketeers, especially the RSO or the HP-SCO. If the rocketeer disagrees with the LP-SCO's judgment, the RSO has the ultimate authority.

For most rockets the inspection process is fairly simple. The LP-SCO checks to see that the fins and launch lug are securely fastened to the body tube. He checks that the engine is properly installed (i.e. that it is not hanging half out of the rocket because the glue on the engine block set too soon, or that it is not in backwards) and it is secure from either moving forward when thrusting or being ejected during recovery (unless it is supposed to be ejected). While at the engine it is also a good idea to check to see if the igniter wires are possibly shorted together.

Check for a functional recovery system. This can be no more than checking that the nose cone is not too tight or too loose, asking the owner if the recovery system is present, and if he remembered the recovery wadding.

The flight cards of any large rocket which is not rejected but is somewhat questionable in the eyes of the LP-SCO is marked as a "heads up" flight so everyone else will be made aware of the potential for a problem. All scratch built rockets (those not from a kit) on their first flight should be marked as "heads up" flights. Check that the rocket is not too heavy. If it feels heavy, check it on the scale at the HP-SCO table and compare the weight with the maximum allowed for the engine. A table of maximum weights for different engine sizes is at the HP_SCO table.

If the LP-SCO or the owner are still concerned about a questionable, "heads up", low-power rocket they may request that it be flown from the midh-power pads to get it farther from the crowd.