Sport Rocketry is most commonly known as Spacemodelling (SM), and is an Airsport, a part of Aeromodelling, that deals with space models.


Spacemodelling was first Introduced by Harry G. Stine (a rocket engineer, known as the “Father of Spacemodelling”) and Orvil Carlslile (a shoemaker) in 1957.

The first, provisional rules were approved by the FAI in 1964 and the official rules were adopted in 1968.

Every year, Model rocket competitions are expanding in participation and increasing in sophistication.

Attracting the best modelers from all over the world, winning has become a matter of National Pride requiring great modeling and flying skill.

Model Rocket competitions (spacemodeling) lead to the ultimate level of International competition where the winners earn the title of “World Champion


What is a space model?

The FAI defines a "Space model" as:

  • an Aero-model that ascends into the air without the use of aerodynamic lifting forces against gravity
  • Is propelled by means of a space model engine
  • Includes a device for returning safely to the ground in a condition to fly again
  • Is made of substantially non-metalic parts



Construction requirements for Spacemodelling

Construction of space models is based on the standard Model Rocketry Safety Code, which in short shall be of wood, paper, rubber, breakable plastics and without substantial metallic parts.

  • Models of classes S1, S2, S3, S6, S9 and S10 must have minimum diameter of 30 mm of enclosed airframe for a length of at least 50 % of the overall body length.
  • In the case of S5 body diameter must be minimum 40 mm for at least of 20 % of overall body length.
  • In case of S1 smallest body diameter, including boat tailing in the back section of the model shall not be less than 18 mm for at least 75% of the overall length of each stage including their back sections.


Where and how can I get started with Spacemodelling?

You can choose three ways:

  • Read spacemodelling books or magazines
  • Ask other spacemodellers for advices and
  • Go to spacemodelling competitions to see how the other people is doing that and to try yourself.

While it is recommended to get involved with a local club or group, the reality is that in South Africa, there simply are not that many clubs around.

But dont't let that hold you back, getting started is still possible and easy!

  • Find some drawing paper to make bodies, balsa sheets of 1-1,5 mm for the fins and some styrofoam for nosecones.
    -use non-metallic parts, length 500 mm and diameter 40 mm.
    -Total area of three or four fins shall be, for beginners, that of 2,5 cross sections of the body)
  • Center of gravity (CG) of the model shall be 0,5 - 1,0 body diameter in front of center of pressure (CP) for that model.
    -You can find the center of pressure roughly by cutting a silhouette of the model of cardboard and balance it on the knife edge.
    -To check if your model is stable and safe fix a piece of tread 1-1,5 m long at the center of gravity and rotate it over your head. If it follows trajectory with the nose cone heading forward - the model is stable and you can fly it safely.
  • Join SAASA, and buy commercial Rocket Motors (start with A/2 or A engine class first).



  • Handbook of Model Rocketry
    G.Harry Stine: Handbook of Model Rocketry, published by Follet, Chicago 1965.

  • Model Rocketry - Space Modelling
    Stuart Lodge: Model Rocketry - Space Modelling, Traplet Publications 2010

Picture of Model Rocketry – Space Modelling

  • International Spacemodelling History
    Prof Ioan Radu – International Spacemodelling
    Available through the author at Radu Ioan
  • Internet & Magazines articles on spacemodelling
    American Sports Rocketry (USA)
    Modelar (Czech Republic )
    TIM ( Slovenia )
  • Speak to a qualified person for advice


Which Motors are used in Spacemodelling?

It is important to understand that the "performance" of Space Models, such as a model rocket is largely dependant on the Motor Performance.

In order to ensure a level playing filed (Fairness),  all competitors should compete using the same limitiations.

This is just like all international sports. A good example is Formula 1 racing- in the end, construction, engineering, team-effort and driver skills and luck (to name but a a few factors) largely determine the outcome of the race.

Space model Motors shall be a solid propellant reaction Motor that has all propellant ingredients preloaded into the casing in such a manner that they cannot easily be removed.

It is highly advised to use Commercial Motors as only certified and/or pre-approved Motors will be allowed.


Events are divided into sub-classes, which is determined by the Total Impulse of the Motors

Event class Total impulse
A/2 1, 25 Newton Seconds ( Ns )
A 2,50 Ns
B 5,00 Ns
C 10,00 Ns
D 20,00 Ns
E 40,00 Ns
F 80,00 Ns


Events and Participation Levels

Building for FAI Spacemodeling competition requires learning some design and construction techniques that are new to most Model Rocket competitors.

This learning process takes an investment of time, effort, and money, but the skills are well within the reach of a good competition modeler.

See our resource page on construction supplies and technical information and join the SAASA FAI Spacemodeling Group to learn more.

During The World Championships, there are 8 Events and the same power classes of each of these events

S1 Altitude B for Seniors A for Juniors
S3 Parachute Duration A for Seniors & Juniors
S4 Boost-Glider A for Seniors & Juniors
S5 Scale Altitude C for Seniors B for Juniors
S6 Streamer Duration A for Seniors & Juniors
S7 Scale  
S8 Radio-Controlled Glider E for Seniors D for Juniors
S9 Gyrocopter Duration A for Seniors & Juniors


The FAI..


The FAI (Federation Aeronautique International) is the governing body for all International Aviation Sports, including Spacemodeling and Aeromodeling.

Each country is represented within the FAI by its national aero club, which in South Africa is the Aeroclub of South Africa.

SAASA has communicated with the FAI, and the Aeroclub in an effort to introduce and promote Spacemodelling in South Africa

International Space Modeling competitions are primarily governed by the FAI Spacemodeling Code, which has been adopted by SAASA.


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