Model Rockets

We are constructing a new UAS site to our web page. In the meantime, the MIT Community can contact the Safety Program Deputy Director for additional information, For more information please refer to: Unmanned Aircraft Systems


Use the same process described on this page if you plan to launch soda bottle rockets or Class 1 Model Rockets.  If you plan to fly remote controlled (RC) airplanes or helicopters, contact Athletics to reserve the indoor track or other indoor space.   


If you plan to launch a Class 1 Model Rocket (skip if using soda bottle rockets), then it must meet all 5 criteria:

  1. Uses no more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant;
  2. Uses a slow-burning propellant;
  3. Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic;
  4. Contains no metal nose weights, fins, or other heavy metal parts; and
  5. Weighs no more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces), including the propellant.

If you plan to fly model airplanes, then you must follow these FAA rules and the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code

If you plan to use a balloon that has a diameter of more than 6 feet or a gas capacity of more than 115 cubic feet:  Review the restrictions in the FAA regulations Since MIT is within 5 miles of Logan Airport (“restricted area”), contact Sandy Lett ( in the Athletics Dept. to reserve large indoor space. 


Reserve Briggs Field through DAPER

The sponsor reserves 2 fields to create a buffer zone so the rockets don’t fly into Vassar Street or into fields where other activities are taking place.  Please contact Sandy Lett ( if she is out resend this to at least 3 weeks in advance to check on field availability and make your tentative reservation.  Plan an alternate date in case there aren't any fields that are available on your preferred date. Students can make reservations. The reservation is contingent upon finalizing your safety plan. 


Helpful hints:

  • FAA changed their rules in June 2014. To comply with their restrictions, order B engines for model rockets. This will limit the rocket to 250 feet launches.
  • Schedule this event during the week because the fields are busy during the weekends. You will also need to hire a Police Detail for crowd control if you choose to schedule this event during the weekend.
  • If you can't reserve Briggs Field:  The North Court and McDermott Dot are not safe to use because the wind speeds are often high.  In both of these locations, there are many pedestrians and bicyclists, who will pass by your launch site and the rockets could injure someone. The wind will blow the rockets into windows or vehicles. The lawn in front of Bldg. 33 is not safe because the rockets could be blown by the wind into Mass Ave, into windows or hit a vehicle or pedestrian.
  • To comply with dig safe, do NOT use of stakes for the launcher. Exceptions for Briggs Field must be approved by Sandy Lett ( 
  • Use a weather monitoring app

Write a Safety Plan

The sponsor tailors the safety plan template (click on attachment below) to describe their activity (delete the sections that are not applicable) and emails this to  Additionally, if the launch is part of an MIT class, the faculty sponsor should assign someone to be responsible for the safety plan, and consult with the DLC EHS coordinator.

Either the DSL or departmental EHS Coordinator will work with the Safety Program to review the safety plan and make recommendations to finalize it, if necessary. 

Schedule several people with loud voices to patrol the perimeter and prevent people from being hit. They could wave the sign (click on attachment below).


Communicate Finalized Safety Plan

After EHS reviews the final version of the safety plan, the sponsor sends the plan to Sandy Lett (  Athletics will give final approval or they may have additional requirements. Sandy sends the sponsor a Field Confirmation and the procedure for weather-related cancellations.

Alternative:  The sponsor sends the safety plan to CAC, which will determine if the sponsor can reserve the North Court or McDermott Dot.

Once the field reservation has been confirmed, the sponsor sends the final version of the safety plan to the EHS Office (, EHS Coordinator(s), MIT Police ( and Athletics (

EHS will send the safety plan to the on-call team a few days before the launch date.


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