Monday, April 05, 2004
Hobbyists, we have a problem
JS Online: "Sending a handcrafted missile to the stars with a flashy, aerodynamic ka-boom is the universal desire of enthusiastic model rocket hobbyists - as was apparent at a recent convention of rocketeers at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Greg Pappenfuss, 13, of Racine connects the wires to his D-12 Big Daddy Rocket recently at Bong State Recreational Area in Kenosha County. The launch was sponsored by the National Association of Rocketry hobbyist group.

Andy Cypher of Medford worked for nearly a month to complete this 6-pound-5-ounce LOC-Warlock rocket he launched recently at Bong State Recreational Area in Kenosha County.

But the federal government has clouded this celestial dream, hobbyists say, making it increasingly difficult and expensive for them to discharge their wares into the heavens.

For nearly two years, rocket modelers have appealed to the legislative and judicial branches of the government to listen to their cause. But a recent court judgment may have finally aborted that mission.

On March 19, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that ammonium perchlorate composite propellant - a common model rocket motor propellant - is an explosive, as defined by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and therefore is subject to certain laws and regulations limiting its use.

The court also ruled that rocket hobbyists were not exempt from these regulations."

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