Rocketry is undeniably a dangerous occupation, even at a university level. It combines two parameters that are indeed a dangerous mix, the first being the delivery and management of high amounts of energy and the second the short processing time. Since our team is focused on research and applies experimental methods (tests, use of hazardous materials and explosives), it operates with the desire to maintain a safe working environment.
In this context, the Safety sub-system is called upon to ensure the protection of the members and the integrity of the equipment. Safety members detect and study hazards involved in Rocketry and get properly informed, in order to determine the safe operating framework of the team. The study is based on Νational and European legislation on the possession and use of explosives and extends to regulations of High-Power Rocketry, as provided by international organizations such as the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), the Tripoli Rocketry Association (TRA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
The activities of the group are divided to launches and laboratory work. Thus, the responsibilities of the Safety sub-system are distributed respectively. More specifically, the team’s Safety Officers, who are fully informed about the risks and procedures, take care of the smooth actualization of the launches. Their responsibility is to monitor compliance with all precautionary measures. Otherwise, they have the right to veto the launch. The above are applied after the preparation of the Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis with the participation of all members and the guidance of the Safety Officers. This report analyzes all the risks and their possible effects on the project, while also suggesting ways to minimize them. Then, the procedures are recorded step by step for each sub-system and checklists are created, including the necessary equipment (materials, tools, etc.). Whenever deemed necessary, the Officers also supervise the use of personal protective equipment and tools.
In the laboratory, the Safety sub-system ensures that all types of work and testing are implemented in a safe manner. First of all, all Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and equipment manuals are processed and all Rocketry’s members are properly informed. The Safety sub-system is also responsible for posting the safety rules at the lab, as well as supplying it with personal protective equipment, fire extinguishers and a first-aid-kit. In addition, risk prediction through the design of new projects plays an important role.
In conclusion, the Safety sub-system is essential to a High Power Rocketry team, as it undertakes to continuously inform and educate the members about the existing hazards. Safety is not only an integral part of engineering and science, but also a necessary condition for the overall functionality of an organized group.