NZ Rocketry Challenge 2016

The Challenge

The NZ Rocketry Challenge is designed to provide Year 7 and 8 Students* a realistic experience in designing a flying aerospace vehicle that meets a specified set of mission and performance requirements.

* But students from Year 5-9 are welcome to participate.

Students work together in teams the same way Aerospace Engineers do. The task is intended to be challenging but within the capabilities of students of these ages with a good background in science and mathematics, and some craftsmanship skills.


The objective of the Challenge is to design and build a safe and stable model rocket flight vehicle and use it to safely lift a fragile payload (one raw hen's egg) to an altitude of exactly 250 feet (76.2m), then to return the rocket and payload safely and undamaged. Closest to the target altitude, wins.

Fly at your school:

To make the competition accessible to students everywhere in New Zealand -- you can fly at your own school, or a nearby field. Simply register undertake two competition flights (you must be registered in advance), under some pre-defined conditions, and then submit your results to be in to win.

Contest Rules

A summary of the basic conditions that entrants must adhere to are as follows:

Your team:

Your rocket:

Your flight:

Model Rocket Safety Code

  1. Materials: I will use only lightweight, non-metal parts for the nose, body, and fins of my rocket.

  1. Motors: I will use only certified, commercially made model rocket motors, and will not tamper with these motors or use them for any purposes except those recommended by the manufacturer.

  1. Ignition System: I will launch my rockets with an electrical launch system and electrical motor igniters. My launch system will have a safety interlock in series with the launch switch, and will use a launch switch that returns to the "off" position when released.

  1. Misfires: If my rocket does not launch when I press the button of my electrical launch system, I will remove the launcher's safety interlock or disconnect its battery, and will wait 60 seconds after the last launch attempt before allowing anyone to approach the rocket.

  1. Launch Safety: I will use a countdown before launch, and will ensure that everyone is paying attention and is a safe distance of at least 5 metres away when I launch rockets with D motors or smaller, and 10 metres when I launch larger rockets. If I am uncertain about the safety or stability of an untested rocket, I will check the stability before flight and will fly it only after warning spectators and clearing them away to a safe distance.

  1. Launcher: I will launch my rocket from a launch rod, tower, or rail that is pointed to within 30 degrees of the vertical to ensure that the rocket flies nearly straight up, and I will use a blast deflector to prevent the motor's exhaust from hitting the ground. To prevent accidental eye injury, I will place launchers so that the end of the launch rod is above eye level or will cap the end of the rod when it is not in use.

  1. Size: My model rocket will not weigh more than 1500 grams at liftoff and will not contain more than 125 grams of propellant or 320 N-sec of total impulse.

  1. Flight Safety: I will not launch my rocket at targets, into clouds, or near airplanes, and will not put any flammable or explosive payload in my rocket.

  1. Launch Site: I will launch my rocket outdoors, in an open area at least as large as shown in the accompanying table, and in safe weather conditions with wind speeds no greater than 32 kilometres per hour. I will ensure that there is no dry grass close to the launch pad, and that the launch site does not present risk of grass fires.

  1. Recovery System: I will use a recovery system such as a streamer or parachute in my rocket so that it returns safely and undamaged and can be flown again, and I will use only flame-resistant or fireproof recovery system wadding in my rocket.

  1. Recovery Safety: I will not attempt to recover my rocket from power lines, tall trees, or other dangerous places.

Model Rocket Safety Code (continued)

Launch Site Dimensions

Installed Total Impulse (N-sec)

Equivalent Motor Type

Minimum Site Width (m)

(Diameter if circular area, or shortest side if rectangular)

0.00 -- 1.25

1/4A, 1/2A


1.26 -- 2.50



2.51 -- 5.00



5.01 -- 10.00



10.01 -- 20.00

D (or 2 x C)


20.01 -- 40.00



40.01 -- 80.00



80.01 -- 160.00



160.01 -- 320.00

Two Gs


Qualification Flights

Once you have completed your rocket design and any test flights you choose to undertake, you must then undertake the contest ‘qualification flights’ - under appropriate test conditions.

Flight Criteria

The two test flights must:

The rocket must:

The payload (“egg”) must:

Other criteria:

Photo/Video Evidence Required

Use of a camera-phone is acceptable - but try to get the best quality images and video you can.

Date and time of each launch must be supplied.

Current weather conditions (approximation) must be supplied (not part of the judging criteria, unless exceeds safety limits).

Photographs must be provided of (for each launch):

  1. The complete rocket assembly, prior to flight, laying on a flat surface with booster and payload sections pulled apart
  2. Altimeter (closeup) - showing the zeroed ground-level reading
  3. Rocket (both booster and payload section), after flight - as it was found on the ground / landing surface (e.g. unopened)
  4. Egg (closeup) - showing both sides
  5. Altimeter (closeup) - showing reading for the flight

Videos of each launch should be provided:

Launch Witness

The launch and recovery should be witnessed by:


The final results being submitted to NZ Rocketry Challenge must be certified by:

The person certifying the results must not have been involved in the coaching of the teams.

Competition Judging Criteria


Judging Criteria

Launch Protocols

The following is a broad summary of the launching protocols used for formally organised rocketry events, which you may choose to adopt if doing multiple-team competition flights at your school; or adapt for a standalone flight.


Launching Protocol

NZ Rocketry Challenge 2016 - Contest Rules & Information - v1.4 (2016-10-05) -  Page  of