STAAR Research - The Scottish Rocket Programme

The legal position of UK Rocketry

In the UK, for model rocketry, there are no laws preventing model rocket launches (unless you launch from private land without permission - this is trespass). There are also no aviation laws preventing flight of model rocketry apart from the obvious case of not launching a model rocket within 5 miles of an airfield or airport.


There are however, some local byelaws in some parts of the UK, which either restrict or ban the launching of model rockets. This is similar to the case of radio controlled model aircraft which are also subject to similar restrictions.

The basic rule of thumb, is not to launch in or near a built up area such as a town or city, for obvious reasons. As long as this is adhered to then any potential problems should be minimised.

Rocket Motor Storage

What is less well known however, is that there is a limited amount (albeit a large limited amount) of rocket motors, or limited size of rocket motors which can be stored. These are governed by the 1875 Explosives Act, and the 1883 Amendment to this Act (There are also more recent acts as well). For most UK rocketeers, who fly on Estes model rocket motors, this is not a problem and motors of up to D-class (and even up to G-class) have not posed a problem (You would need about 100 D-class motors before it became a problem !).

However, for High Power Rocketry enthusiasts, storage of larger motors often entails application to the local police, since some UK police forces require that larger model rocket motors are stored in a secure fireproof safe as a safety measure. The process is to contact the local constabulary, and ask for their advice as to storage and safety requirements. This may or may not entail a certification process, depending on the local police force's interpretation of the matter.

It must be emphasised that there is no problem in the majority of cases, and even in situations where secure storage is required, as long as you follow the guidelines, then again, there will be no problem.

Rocket Motor Manufacture

Under the conditions of the 1875 Explosives Act, the 1883 Amendment, and later Prevention of Terrorism acts, it is an offence to manufacture your own solid fuel rocket motors, since these are classed as an explosive. This is also an issue for the Health and Safety Executive too. This act does not affect model rocketry enthusiasts who buy commercially available motors however, only those few people who want to construct their own solid fuel motors.

Air Law

Whilst there are no legal guidelines laid down by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). In the case of the larger rockets, or those which are designed for very high altitude, it is also advisable to contact the nearest airport Air Traffic Control, to notify them that you are launching rockets. They can then decide whether they need to issue a NOTAM to pilots in the area.

Safety Issues

Whilst some members of the rocket community in the UK launch large rockets (e.g. AspireSpace, STAAR Research, M.A.R.S. and Steve Bennett), it must be remembered, that they do so from private land. Groups such as AspireSpace, STAAR Research and M.A.R.S. are in any case, ultra safety conscious.

Safety Guidelines

The most detailed set of safety guidelines available in the UK are the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) safety guidelines, supplied with Estes model rockets. They are applicable to rocketry enthusiasts anywhere, and should be adhered to.


This web page merely outlines current information on rocketry in the UK. The accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed. Please refer to the appropriate legal guidelines, or the local constabulary if you want a comprehensive explanation of the current state of affairs.

Whilst every effort has been made as to the validity of this information, STAAR Research cannot accept any responsibility for matters arising from the information content of this web page. It represents our view of the legal situation of rocketry in the UK.

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