Butner Low-Power Launch Field

The new low-power launch site is near Butner, NC (it’s actually closer to Stem, NC) and is located in the Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory, affiliated with North Carolina State University.

We are currently scheduling launches at the Butner site in the summer, when we do not have access to the Bayboro field, and in January, around the Astronomy Days exhibit in Raleigh.

One important rule, and this was the same rule we had at Whitakers:  The launch field is the dining room for some very important research cows.  Do not leave anything on the ground, metal, paper plastic, …. nothing.  If you see anything on the ground that somebody else has left, pick it up and put it in your pocket.  I’m very serious about this — we are going to leave this field immaculate or we may not get invited back.

A porta-pottie is available on-site. Spectators are always welcome.

Directions to the Butner Low-Power Field

Coming from the Chapel Hill/Durham area, take I-85 North past Falls lake and get off at Exit 189 at Butner.  Go left on Gate 2 Road (back over I-85), which turns into Central Avenue in Butner, and follow it through town to a Y-intersection (Veazey Rd on left, Central Ave on the right).  Take the right fork (Central Avenue) to 33rd Street.  Turn left on 33rd Street for about 150 feet and immediately turn left again on Old Route 75/Butner Rd.  Take the next right onto Range Road.  After about 1 mile, you will come to an intersection with Roberts Chapel Road, where you will turn left into the Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory.

From Raleigh and parts South/East, find your way to NC-50 (labeled as Creedmoor Rd inside most of Raleigh itself) and head north away from I-540 and NC-98.  From the point where NC-50 goes under I-540 ( Exit 9 for those of you coming down I-540), drive approximately 11 miles North and turn left on Old Weaver Trail.  After about a mile, turn right onto Cash Rd, which will turn into Gate 2 Road/State Rd 1103 (stay right at the Central Ave/Veazey Rd Y-intersection just past downtown Butner).  Continue on Gate 2 Road/Central Ave/Central Ave Extd. a total of 7 miles from Old Weaver Trail and turn left onto 33rd Street for about 150 feet, then take the very immediate first left onto Butner Rd/Old Route 75.  Take the next right onto Range Road and travel ~1 mile to the intersection of Roberts Chapel Road and Range Rd (look for the large piece of military ordnance on the right), and turn left into the Butner Beef Cattle Field Laboratory.
The Roberts Chapel Road/Range Road intersection is marked with a large piece of military ordnance on the right side of the road.  I’m not hip to the jive when it comes to military hardware — I wouldn’t know a half-track from a half-nelson — but you’ll know it when you see it:  it’s large and steel and has a big gun barrel sticking out of it.  If you look at the Google Maps picture of the region northwest of Butner, the site of the launch is marked as “Perkins Field”.

Launch site GPS coordinates:  36.163847, -78.806523    -or-   +36° 9′ 50.79″N,  -78° 48′ 23.71″W

Google Map

 

If you use GPS to travel to the site, first go to the Range Road entrance at:

Range Road entrance: 36.176528, -78.797281   -or-  36°10’35.50″ N  78°47’50.21″ W

and then proceed to the launch site. Many map apps will guide you to another closed entrance to the west if you try and go directly to the launch site.

Launch Equipment

We supply launch equipment, usually two banks of 4 pads each.

We have up to seven low power pads using 1/8″, 3/16″ and 1/4″ rods. We also have two 1010 rail (1″x1″) launchers (one 12 feet, the other 8 feet) and a 6 foot 20mm rail.  Get rail buttons from Railbuttons.com, ask for the 1010 and mini size.

We strongly recommend using the rails for larger rockets.

Rocket Limitations

Since launches at the Butner field are not FAA waivered, only smaller rockets can be launched.

Rockets must weigh less than 1500 grams (3 lb 4 oz) fully loaded.

Total propellant mass is limited to 125 grams per flight. Thus smaller H motors are allowed.

Altitudes less than 1000 ft are recommended, depending on wind conditions.

Launch Fees

Adult fliers pay $10/day to launch, children fly free. We use this revenue to maintain our launch equipment.

You will be asked to provide contact information to NCSU. They need to keep track of who is using the field in case the cattle develop disease.

Launch Safety

We follow the Tripoli High Power Safety Code and the NAR Model Rocket Safety Code for launches at Butner.

Safety is our primary goal. To that end…

  • No smoking at the field.
  • Stay aware. Watch all flights. Be prepared to move out of the way of falling rockets.
  • If the Launch Control Officer (LCO) calls for a “Heads Up” flight, stand up and watch the flight.
  • If you hear an air horn, or “Heads Up”, look up and watch for falling parts.
  • DO NOT attempt to catch falling rockets or parts.
  • Stay behind the LCO during all flights.
  • Do not approach the launch pads unless the LCO indicates it is safe to do so.
  • Fliers: Follow the Model and High Power Rocket Safety Codes. The RSO has a copy.

Launch Procedure

  • Register at the RSO table before your first flight.
  • Prep your rocket for flight. We prefer that igniters be installed at the LCO table or at the pad. Any recovery electronics should be disarmed until at the pad.
  • Fill out a flight card for each flight.
  • Bring the card and rocket to the Range Safety Officer (RSO) for a safety check.
  • Bring the rocket to the Launch Control Officer (LCO) who will tell you when it is safe to load your rocket on the launch pad and which pad to use.
  • Do not approach the launch area to recover your rocket until all rockets have been launched.

Weather information and forecasts for the Butner Launch Field

  • USAirnet – wind speed/direction, cloud cover and other detailed weather info
  • Weather.com Hourly and 5-day forecasts