Single Use or Reloadable Motors?

People new to mid power rocketry get lots of advice over whether to fly single use motors or buy hardware and fly reloads. Our two cents on this: 

Why Single Use Motors?

  1. Single use motors are simpler to use than reloadables. It is a lot harder to make a mistake with a single use motor than building a reloadable. Forget an o-ring? Forget to put in the ejection charge? Say goodbye to your rocket. And maybe your reloadable hardware.
  2. Single use motors save time. They free up time before, during and after a launch. Using a reloadable means you will spend the night before a launch building motors and the night after the launch cleaning them. Building and cleaning at the launch site reduces your flight time, and guarantees you will be interrupted while trying to build correctly.
  3. Single use motors are reliable. Reputable manufacturers use repeatable manufacturing techniques and test motors regularly. Rarely do you see well-designed and tested single use motors fail when used properly.

Why Reloadable Motors?

  1. You want to fly high power. There is a very limited selection of single use high power rocket motors and their cost is high relative to high power reloads. High power rocketry pretty much requires reloadable hardware.
  2. Reloadable motors save money. Reloads cost less than single use motors. However, factoring in the initial and substantial cost of the hardware it takes a number of flights before reloadables are cheaper than single use. And if you lose your rocket, you lose your reloadable hardware. And you will lose rockets. Rockets are ultimately expendable – be judicious about the cost of what gets lost with them.
  3. You just want to. Hey, if that is your thing, go for it!

Conclusion

We do have a dog in this fight but we still think that for 29mm motors, single use is the way to go, certainly at least initially. There is a large selection of reliable 29mm single use motors at a reasonable price. There is not a large selection of single use high power motors. If you are going to invest in reloadable hardware, do it for 38mm and larger motors.