Safe and efficient operation of the launch range requires a large number of volunteers. Please do your part.
Tripoli requires that an L2-certified individual be appointed RSO and be on-site during the launch. NAR “…strongly recommend[s] that a Range Safety Officer be appointed and on duty at all times” but doesn’t specify qualifications for the RSO. Neither Tripoli or NAR details the authority or responsibility of the RSO or how or when the RSO can delegate authority to others.
Both Tripoli and NAR refer to “the RSO” as a single individual. We’ve used the term more loosely, to mean anyone empowered to certify rockets for flight. Although we haven’t had any problem with this in the past and it may not ever matter, we should be a little clearer about our lines of responsibility. In this document, “the Range Safety Officer” or “the RSO” refers to a single person responsible for overall safety at the launch. Other terms such as “Flight Safety Officer” will be used to refer to people designated by the RSO to make safety-related decisions on the flying field.
Tripoli requires that the RSO have an L2 certification. Since Tripoli recognizes NAR (and CAR) certifications at combined Tripoli/NAR events, we believe that either a Tripoli or NAR L2 certification is acceptable for our Saturday-Sunday launches. Note that this doesn’t apply to “EX” days, since NAR doesn’t have any experimental program. In the future, the NAR Trained Safety Officer (TSO) program may become an acceptable alternative to L2 certification or even a requirement for safety officers at NAR-sanctioned launches. We encourage members to start the TSO training process so that we’ll be ready when this happens.
The RSO may delegate safety-related decisions to other individuals with or without L2 certification. It is the responsibility of the RSO to choose individuals who can be trusted with that authority, and the responsibility of those individuals to understand and act within the limits of their own knowledge and that authority. Regardless of their experience and assignment, all of these people carry the same authority as the RSO. Their decisions may not be challenged on the flying field, and may only be overruled by the RSO, and then only when the RSO believes that the original decision was unsafe.
Range Safety Officer
- official responsibility for all safety-related issues
- responsible for appointing or approving all other safety officers
- can delegate authority to other safety officers
- must have Tripoli or NAR L2 certification
- the RSO is always “on call” for safety issues; use FRS channel 9 for emergencies
Deputy Safety Officer
- same authority as the RSO
- responsibility as delegated by the RSO
- doesn’t require high-power certification, but the RSO should take certification level and experience into account when choosing someone to handle a particular area
- may also be referred to as “Safety Check-in Officer”, “Flight Check-in Officer” or simply “Safety Officer”
Launch Control Officer
- handles load/fire/recover sequence for each rack
- declares “range open” and “range closed”
- monitors range for interference and/or safety problems
- pushes the buttons
The following tasks may be performed by the LCO or an assistant:
- announces flights on the PA system
- monitors descending rockets for safety hazards (separation, rocket headed for spectators, etc.)
- records flight results on the flight cards
- monitors the radio emergency channel (FRS channel 9)
- assists fliers with loading
- handles problems with the pads
These people are responsible for smooth operation of the range. None of these positions requires any particular certification, but may require some experience.
- FAA notification
- arrangements with the landowner
- arrangements for porta-potties
- arrangements for getting the trailer to and from the launch site
- setup and teardown coordination
- weather control
- recruits and assigns safety officers to work at specific times and positions
- keeps track of who’s officially “on duty” and who’s available to answer questions and do fill-in duty
- public representative of the club
- register fliers (collect signed disclaimer and range fee)
- guide new fliers through range procedures
- answer other questions and distribute information about the club and launches
- check that fliers have paid range fees and filled out flight cards (with RSO/FCO initials)
- assigns rockets to racks and pads
- monitor descending rockets so the LCO can concentrate on launching
mark direction of downed rockets to aid in recovery
- assist fliers with recovery
- spotters communicate with fliers on FRS channel 11
The public address system at the LCO table is the primary means of communicating with fliers and spectators as a group. The PA signal is also broadcast on FM 96.7 MHz with a low-power transmitter. Fliers and spectators are encouraged to use a Walkman-style receiver to monitor the LCO announcements while on the range.
FRS (Family Radio Service) channel 9 is reserved for emergency communications and communications related to range safety. The LCO and RSO monitor FRS channel 9. Deputy RSOs and other range officers are encouraged to monitor FRS channel 9 as well. Anyone may call channel 9 with an emergency message (fire, someone injured while recovering a rocket, etc.). Range officers may also use channel 9 for issues that don’t qualify as an emergency but need attention by the RSO or LCO.
Volunteer spotters monitor FRS channel 11. Fliers may use channel 11 to ask for assistance in tracking a rocket or locating a downed rocket. This is something new we’d like to try in order to reduce the number of rockets lost in the sagebrush at Brothers. Please monitor channel 11 and try to help out when you can.
Per FCC rules, we can’t prevent other use of these frequencies by the general public, but we will enforce these policies on the range. Fliers, spectators and their families may use other FRS, HAM and cell frequencies as desired, but anyone who persists in interfering with official communications on these two channels will be required to turn in their radio and/or leave the range.
Although we have no set policy about the use of other RF transmitters (e.g. for rocket control, telemetry or tracking) we request that anyone planning to do this contact the RSO and LCO well ahead of their flight so that we can coordinate frequency usage with other fliers.