Brief Introduction to Rocketry in SA

It is generally accepted that Rocketry- as a hobby - started world-wide around the late 1950s, a time that we now refer to as the beginning of the "Space Race". The story goes that, Inspired by the massive boosters carrying the first satellites into orbit, many people tried to reach space by making their own rockets, but these rockets tended to be made of steel pipes filled with explosive chemicals and were more likely to blow up rather and actually fly.

Although there were many wanna-be rocketeers in the early days, only a small hanfull of early Rocketry Pioneers in South Africa we are able to actually produce stable rockets, with members of the Amateur Rocketry Experimental Group and the South Africa Rocket Research Group (led by Desmond Prout-Jones) being at the forefront of Amateur and "educational" rocketry research.

Sadly only a small handfull South African rocketeers have enjoyed (limited) access to commercial motors produced by the likes of Estes, Quest, Aerotech and others, with the result that rocketry in South Africa has largely relied on the research and use of "research" or "home-brewed" fuels.

The upside is, that there is not a single account of injury as a result of a rocket launch in South Africa- if anything this is a testament to the high level of knowledge and concideration for Safety by the South African rocketeers.

To cut a long story short..
(You can read more about the History of Rocketry in South Africa )

Fast Forward 2017: 

Following a draged out regulatory process, the Chairman of Rocketry SA, Stéfan Stoltz, started challenging the status quo in 2014 and with renewed focuss,has championed the process whereby South African's now have the priveledge of legally participating in Model Rocketry.

In 2016, Rocketry SA completed the Motor Compliance Testing process, applied for Certification and received aproval of Estes and Quest Certified Motors, thus paving the way for the future development of Rocketry in South Africa. 

Although a number of serious challenges remain, we are confident that these are being addressed and will be overcome in the near future.


Why does Model Rocketry hold such an attraction?

Model Rocketry allows you dream about and launch a model rocket without being seriously harmed or killed in the process!

In short, Model Rockets are:

  • Light weight, rocket powered vehicles, made of paper, balsa wood and thin plastic castings.
  • The engines (we call them motors) are professionally and commercially manufactured, typically made of paper tubes with clay nozzles or plastic.
  • These motors are less flammable than cans of model airplane fuel.
  • Engines are mostly single use, but there are a number of kits that use reusable engine casings

      A few technical details that determine when a rocket is classified as being a Model Rocket include:

  • Less than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) total (liftoff) weight
  • A single motor with an impulse of less than 160 Newton-seconds (36 pound-seconds) (A - G motors)
  • A single motor with an average thrust of less than 80 Newtons (18 pounds).
  • The airframe must be made from lightweight material and not include any metal parts (This does not apply to metal clips and screws)