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Old 11-09-2017, 11:40 PM
luke strawwalker's Avatar
luke strawwalker luke strawwalker is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Needville and Shiner, TX
Posts: 5,838

Good points, but there could be REVISIONS to the certification process... IOW, not "decertifying" a motor simply because it goes out of production for such and such a time.

As can be seen in other threads, there can literally be thousands of them still floating around in people's personal storage, on dusty shelves in hobby shops, and in collections being swapped about in various ways. And of course there are also lots of people (on this forum and elsewhere, probably mostly elsewhere) that love to fly some of those old motors when they have the chance.

As I said, the certification process serves two purposes, or at least it should-- 1) to certify that the motor "as designed and built" is statistically safe (through verification test firings of a statistically significant number of motors to obtain the data) and 2) to verify that the performance and delay, etc. on the test stand is within an acceptable range of the specifications stated "on the label" (though strangely enough that's not usually the case-- ie the "long burn" Quest C motors, which are labeled a "C6" but actually are more like a "C3", yet are still labeled and marketed as a C6-- but anybody who's flown them knows (often through bitter experience) NOT to try them in heavy or draggy rockets, as they don't give enough "oomf" off the pad and usually ends in a lawn dart or ground kissing parachute deployments... But that's another pet peeve that I think should be addressed... perhaps NAR should assign the motor specification as part of the certification AFTER the firing tests based on the averages obtained, rather than allow the manufacturer to label it as "anything he wants so long as it's somewhere in the ballpark" just so he can market something to compete "head to head" with an established similar product by another manufacturer... but that's another story).

Of course there's a need to demonstrate to the public safety officials and regulators that there does exist a testing and verification procedure and "certification" to verify the safety and performance of the rocket motors offered for sale to the public, and to differentiate model rocket motors from their "fireworks cousins" (though of course that line has been blurred beyond belief by the love affair that a lot of folks have with sparky motors, which is basically a "firework effect" that has NO beneficial impact on the motor performance, in fact usually a deleterious effect on thrust and performance, merely for an "ooh-ahh" visual/auditory effect, IOW, FIREWORKS...) That battle is largely over-- and where it still rages on in certain "nanny state" areas it will likely never change anyway. I don't think anybody actually says that certification is a BAD thing or should necessarily go away (well, maybe GH here on the forum...)

The point is, the "safety certification" part of the motor certification should be divorced from the contest certification process... It's ridiculous that thousands of motors that have been sold to people and reside in their hands are magically "okay" to fly one day, and "not" the next based on the capricious process of deciding if it's widely available enough to be used for "contest" flying, which is a TINY portion of the model rocket hobby (and rocketry hobbyists). I get it, there exists a need to establish which motors are acceptable for flying in contests and which are not, but that process (based on the same data set) should be separate from the safety testing and performance verification part of the motor certification process-- basically it should be an "approved motor list".

Then, to top it all off, while one can sit on a collection of motors for decades that are no longer "certified" and thus cannot be flown at NAR insured launches because they went out of production and were no longer widely available enough for easy access for contest flying, not because of any statistical testing verified safety problems (like the well known catos or nozzle spitting of certain different motor types over the years), with the 'wave of a magic wand' and filling out some paperwork and genuflection to the right NAR official and receiving the "blessing", these same motors can be flown under the "old motor test flight program" (whatever it's called that the name escapes me at the moment)... IOW another capricious process that says "you cannot 'legally' fly the mass produced formerly certified motors that you own unless *we* say you can". Oy vay...

But of course, even the suggestion of change seems to not sit well in certain quarters, particularly with those who sit "at the top" in charge of such things... I'm sure my comments will be met with all sorts of criticisms and rather haughty remarks that "I just don't understand" or whatever. SO be it; I've come to expect nothing more...

Why I'm not a NAR member... I've found it to be nonresponsive and very protective of a certain small percentage of the rocketry hobbyists interests, and only changes when basically FORCED to because too many people go "off the reservation" and do what they want to do anyway, risking making NAR irrelevant... (ie the long battle over allowing HPR certification within NAR, which USED to be a "verboten" activity long ago, for those who don't remember... and remained so while NAR membership dwindled with people flocking to TRA to get HPR certified, and NAR FINALLY grudgingly accepted HPR and came up with their own reciprocal cert program). I'd suppose this "old motor testing program" (whatever it's called; can't recall the name ATM-- thinking MESS but that's the motor problem reporting program... anyway you guys know what I'm talking about...) was NAR's "grudging" way to allow people who would have flown their old "decertified" motors on their own as "mavericks" without NAR's permission or consent if they HADN'T come up with some way to do it "legally"... IOW, a band-aid on a broken process of deciding where and when motors are "certified" or "not certified" based solely on it's widespread availability for contest flying...

Later! OL J R
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