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Space Toys United States

Rocket Hobbyists Get Blown Away by Regulations 752

dogfart writes "Amateur rocket hobbyists are bearing the brunt of Federal anti-terror efforts. Cumbersome regulations (which include extensive background checks) are pushing many to abandon the hobby. Even clubs associated with colleges (such as Kettering) have ended up folding under the pressure. Quoting the article: '"If we're in an environment where the government says you've got to get fingerprinted and background checked, and spend three to four months to do it, (adults are) not going to participate in my hobby," said Mark Bundick, president of the National Association of Rocketry. "We need more kids. It helps them learn technology. It's the technological base here in the country that we need to protect, and this hobby is a good introduction for kids that are interested in technology. If I lose those adults, then I will not be able to train those kids."'" We wrote about these regulations before, and followed it up with a Slashback.
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Rocket Hobbyists Get Blown Away by Regulations

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  • Some good, some FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:37PM (#9529953) Journal
    Some decent informational content, but some traditional WIRED/media FUD.

    The latest explanation about the case progress from Mr. Bundick is at:

    Full archive of all NAR articles regarding this and related issues:

    As for "losing" members, last I heard both NAR and Tripoli were maintaining even membership numbers.

    Using CP Technologies as a measure is misleading. Their products are for building your own engines. Very few people are interested in that to begin with. Most use either single use motors, or more commonly reloadable motors.

    Aerotech, manufacturer of mid-power rocket kits as well as reloadable motors and the reloads for them, is doing fine despite having suffered a fire. They filed bankruptcy, were purchsed by another company to keep them going, and are back in business full tilt, supplying thousands of rocketeers with motors and fuel.

    We're supposed to take the word of ATFE that rockets are dangerous? Well, I guess they are in the wrong hands. ATFE burned down a rented van by being stupid while trying to test rockets to prove they were dangerous. See:

    NAR #28965, 40 years without a rocket related accident or damage.
  • by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:40PM (#9530002)
    Estes []

    There's a link on the bottom of the page "Homeland Security & Model Rocketry". Basically anything they sell is still legal.

    It's just motors with greater than .9 lbs of fuel. That's Huge and could very well be used as a weapon.

  • Perspective... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:41PM (#9530021) Homepage
    From the government's perspective, anyone who engages in model rocketry could be capable of doing something more dangerous []. Then again, this logic is so logically flawed, it's kind of like saying, "Citizens should not have water, as it could lead to drowning deaths".

  • Yeah Right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:43PM (#9530065)
    Becuase the terrorists would set up rocket clubs. These regulations are insane. If they (terrorist) wanted to blast rockets or do whatever they do with them, they'll just do it, wether there are regulations for background check of rocket club members or not. What is next, do background checks on LUGs because of cyberterrorism, or perhaps read people's email ... (oh, wait, they already do that...doh!)
  • by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:44PM (#9530069) Homepage
    The article states this doesnt affect most rocketeers, just those building the 30 foot ones carrying a pound of fuel. In my opinion, those SHOULD be regulated
  • by ronfar ( 52216 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:45PM (#9530086) Journal
    One of the many activities I was involved in as a child was a model rocketry class. I spent my summer vactaion painting and building my rocket and at the end we were supposed to go out and fire the rocket. Unfortunately, I had to miss the last class so I still have this *chortle* *snicker* deadly terrorist weapon hanging around, as yet unfired, I'll just wait and *giggle* sell this oh-so-*snort* deadly device to my local al-Quaida cell and live on easy street (well, until easy street gets blown up, I guess.)

    Seriously, though, the model rockets we used to build were cool and all, but they are much less dangerous than the average twelve-gauge shotgun that you can by at your local Walmart.

    Still, I have to remember that the government is currently run by people who think that you can be hexed by Harry Potter books, I guess this is sort of the start of the Interregnum (R. A. Heinlein, for those who don't know... he wasn't that far off, except for thinking the First Prophet would be named Nehemiah Scudder...)

  • by caffeineboy ( 44704 ) <skidmore.22@osu. e d u> on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:46PM (#9530097)
    Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing there have been restrictions on pyrotechnicians. I don't know if it is a state law or a federal one but here in Ohio you are not allowed to have your shells for more than 3 days before a scheduled performance and there are a lot of permits to be filled out (this is all coming from a friend of mine).

    I don't know if I feel more annoyed by this kind of thing, or more safe. It seems that if someone actually has a permit to buy display scale fireworks, they wouldn't be using them for anything questionable. Plus, once they have that level of expertise it wouldn't be too difficult for them to brew up their own home grown bomb if they really wanted to blow something up.
  • by DosBubba ( 766897 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:47PM (#9530118)
    Obviously, your forgetting how hobbyists vastly improve technology. Orville and Wilber Wright were hobbyists. They weren't forced to do anything. They did it because that's what they enjoyed doing, and look at what they were able to accomplish. Would they have even attempted to design anything if they had to go through an extensive background check?
  • Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blike ( 716795 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:51PM (#9530179) Homepage
    Model rocketry had such a huge influence on me and my ambitions as a child. I remember being fascinated when my first estes rocket took flight and came down safely under a small parachute. To me, it was like my own personal NASA. I remember all the things I learned about the physics of gravity, drag, and newton's laws (however simplistic). Even recently I returned to the hobby armed with years of experience and tried my hand at video rocketry ( I was still dumbfounded with fascination.

    It breaks my heart to think that kids might not be able to experience the joy and wonder that rocketry brought me.
  • by Roskolnikov ( 68772 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @01:58PM (#9530274)
    Hasn't the US Gov't seen any of the Dirty Harry movies?

    When will RC cars and Aircraft be outlawed?

    I seem to remember a scene in a movie where an RC car fitted with a bomb was used to explode a car.

    When you take all of the things that could be used in violent acts away, people invent new methods (and generally more efficient) methods for doing the things you planned on preventing.

    Case in point; it was too hard to get enough explosives to damage the WTC buildings, but highjack a couple of airplanes fueled to cross the continent and you have the means to do so.

    Why not outlaw planes? why not require background checks to fly? I defer to George Carlin on this one, surely a large fist could be used to take control of a plane, will we have strength tests at the gates?

    While I rattle on about how stupid we've become, why not just sedate all plane passengers with enough to keep them out cold for the duration of the flight? you fall asleep in the terminal and wake up at your destination? Heck, why not just sedate the entire population?

    If you spend all of your time trying to prevent the things that could happen, nothing will happen and no progress will be made.

    End of silly rant.

  • by IronChefMorimoto ( 691038 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:02PM (#9530336)
    I can kind of see why the Justice Department might want to regulate these rocket hobbyists, if it's been determined that a reasonably dangerous payload could be added to the rocket.

    Some sort of anthrax aerosol or something that explodes in mid-air over a small area. Maybe in a neighborhood or park. I don't know -- I'm just speculating here. Makes you wonder if it could be done.

    However, if THAT is the sort of issue that they're raising with these poor rocketry hobbyists, then when will (if it's not happened already) model airplane/helicopter hobbyists have to start filling out government forms? I mean, strap some sort of acid dispersal system onto the bottom of a remote control helicopter and actually CONTROL where you start spraying people (again -- just wild speculation here). THAT sounds to me like more of a threat than model rockets.

    My 2 cents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:08PM (#9530421)
    from 2003/122003.pdf []

    November 18, 2003
    Web posted at: 12:21 PM EST
    Source: ARSA
    (ROL Newswire) -- Kettering University in Michigan has decided to discontinue their on-campus, student-run rocketry club due to the expenses of ATFE licensing and associated liability issues for the University. The decision made earlier in the school year was a major disappointment to students.

    Kettering University has its origins in the General Motors Institute. For almost 80 years, it has maintained close ties with General Motors who is a corporate partner with the University. Kettering uses a unique system of co-op education that combines classroom studies with professional work experiences. The university recently opened a $40 million Engineering and Science Center that will house the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry.

  • Time to adapt? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:10PM (#9530455) Journal
    I think it is time for model rocketry enthusiasts to start developing miniature lightweight engines that run on less restricted liquid or gas fuels, such as gasoline, alcohol, kerosene or propane. Time to "route around" the restrictions. Nobody is going to concern themselves with you filling up a jerry can of gasoline. , as they will assume it would be going into your lawnmower. Since the engines themselves would be more expensive, you would probably want to reuse and recover them. I had no problems buying small O2 cylinders for my welding kit, at least here, (Canada) there isn't draconian restrictions on it.

    Ironically, this would probably make for a less safe hobby, as I wouldn't want to be anywhere near a liquid fuelled rocket that ruptured its fuel tank and/or oxidizer on launch.
  • by hpavc ( 129350 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:15PM (#9530510)
    actually the rockets that are fired into israel are pretty much amaeur diy rockets.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:28PM (#9530704)
    So UN resolutions do not apply to Israel but when Iraq violates one we "Shock and Awe" them.

    Ok then.
  • by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:35PM (#9530798)
    I'm still trying to separate the fact fromt the FUD. At first I thought this was covering things like the little Estes model rockets my sons' Cub Scouts Pack built and fired, but these rockets are a whole different class.

    "While the vast majority of model rocketeers are not subject to regulation, high-powered rockets, which can be 30 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds -- with some flying more than 60 miles or reaching speeds over 1,000 miles per hour -- do need to comply with the requirements of federal explosives law."

    We're talking real rockets here! And even if you ignore potential terrorist use, it does seem reasonable to have limitations on how much rocket fuel can be stored by a hobbiest (or anyone) in a residential neighborhood.

    So it does seem like the regulations are over the top (story hype doesn't help), but I'm still trying to figure out it they are really all that unreasonable.

  • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:37PM (#9530814) Journal
    Interesting that you left the Second Amendment out of your list at the end.

    I don't like guns.

    But I'm against gun control precisely because I won't be a hypocrite who fights for the First Amendment and ignores that inconvenient Second one. Indeed, my worries about the injustice of convicting under Federal gun laws recently prevented me from sitting on a jury after I voiced my concerns.

    But I don't know of any case where Ashcroft or the current Administration has eroded Second Amendment rights; indeed, when it came to searching for terrorists after 9-11, Ashcroft told the government to search for terrorist suspects' names on all government lists except lists of gun owners [].

    I'd be glad to add to my list however: if you know of an example where Ashcroft or the Bush administration has abrogated Second, Third, or Seventh Amendment rights, please let me know!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:43PM (#9530884)
    A model rocket is little more than a retrievable firework. It's made of paper, plastic and a small charge to get it off the ground. The fact that it's shaped like a rocket has no bearing. The hobby teaches kids about something interesting. Who proposed the restriction? We should remove him / her from office.
    We really need a new moderation category..Like one that says "Clearly did not bother to read the actual article" How the hell is a moderator supposed to moderate these except perhaps for "overrated" but then of course the meta-moderators will see that and the text and assume I just dont agree with the political background of the post. Using the original posters logic I should be able to have Stinger missiles in my yard...After all..they are little more than a few snips of metal, a palm pilot and a IR detector for turning the lights off in the bathroom after you leave. Now of course one could argue that a free people should be able to have Stingers..Though I strongly suspect the "jump on the patriot act bashing" group does not believe this en-mass. Yes..The government is out of control..Yes the patriot act has gone too far in some places..Lets find those places, point to them, and fix them (note that a battle like this will and should rage through the end of civilization)..There are enough areas the government and "we the people" mess up on our own that we do not need to make up stuff like this.
  • by winwar ( 114053 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:50PM (#9530958)
    "You've obviously never studied Constitutional law because you have no right to build rockets."

    Unless of course you believe that powers not specificially given to the government by the people are reserved for the people. It is called the Tenth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights. Before you spout off about Constitutional law, perhaps you should read the Constitution first.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be an often ignored part of the Constitution....

  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:53PM (#9530990) Journal
    Guns don't kill people -- people kill people. On the other hand, a lot more people kill people when there are guns everywhere and there's no societal desire to train people how to properly use and respect guns. I'm perfectly happy to allow everyone in the U.S. to own as many guns of any caliber as they want, as long as everyone is required to take a mandatory gun safety and training class before they can own one.

  • by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @02:56PM (#9531025) Journal
    The rockets I use to launch used 'B' & 'C' engines, and when I got older the big 'D' engines. The rockets that that are being regulated ARE NOT MODEL ROCKETS.

    So what, in your opinion, constitutes a MODEL ROCKET?

    These people [] seem to have some interesting ideas, should you need some suggestions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:03PM (#9531109)
    How about these resolutions:

    UN Resolution 194
    UN Resolution 242
    UN Resolution 446

  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:11PM (#9531201)
    those regulations may have had unintended (or disregarded) side effects, but you're going way out of your way to justify an assumption of maliciousness here.

    I'd agree with you... if I hadn't spent nine months after 9/11 arguing with my friends that we should too give Bush a chance, that the unintended consequences weren't the result of malicious intent.

    I finally gave up the argument during the mid-term elections. Mostly it was the "poison pill" restriction of civil rights for people within the Dept. of Homeland Security. That was nothing, nothing but a low tactic, and it was one they had to go out of their way to carry out. No unintended consequences there. They knew who they were choosing to screw, and that they were doing it to paint guys like Max Cleland as unpatriotic to win their elections.

    Look up. You have a President whose administration has argued a)that we're fighting a war whose beginning and end can only be declared by him; and b)that he's got all-but-dictatorial power when we're at war. Sometimes, he grants, he chooses not to exercise that power -- but he says he has it, and puts his signature by that. His legal advisors are set to work justifying that position.

    Arbitrary power has arbitrary consequences -- to wit, this example. The cracking end of that whip happens in places like Abu Graib.

    I'll judge us by how we correct the unintended consequences, not by how well we rationalize them. And I don't see one shred of effort by those in power right now to do anything but bury stories they think are unfavorable to their staying in power. Bush will try to paint Kerry as a raving lunatic for wanting to restrict the Patriot Act in libraries. He'd do the same if Kerry talked about model rocket hobbyists. There's nothing unintentional about those choices, either. They know what they're doing.

  • by MoneyT ( 548795 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:13PM (#9531238) Journal
    I believe he was refering to the equal oportunity laws, where the government stepped in and told PRIVATE COMPANIES, who they can and can't hire and how much they can and can't hire them for. Truth be told, anti-discrimination laws in regards to private businesses are unconstitutional, but the courts stratched the definition of the interstate commerce clause to regulate that.
  • Actually..... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:19PM (#9531320)
    I've seen the single best reason for this.

    See, an associate of an associate, I won't name names, built rockets with me and my father. He thought it would be cool to build a really big one. So he did. And launched it. Now, we had a nice big field, but it was only a mile from a big highway. This isn't a problem with those cheap Estes things, but this was a missile. And there was a good wind that day.

    Long story short, he nearly took out a Coca Cola bottling plant.

    Can't be used for terrorism my ass. Though I wouldn't be worried, as giant rockets are really hard to sneak in and out of anywhere. You too can learn this if you try to drive around with a 6 foot model rocket in your car.

    ~Anonymous and Cowardly
  • by syukton ( 256348 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:19PM (#9531332)
    As Iraq is showing us, anyone can make an IED, and they don't need rocket engines to do it. With the recent success of SpaceShipOne, I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering what kind of power old tires and laughing gas can provide when they fall into the wrong hands.

    Hey wait, can we hit two birds with one stone and sell the ingredients and instructions on mixing rubber particles and N2O to MAKE model rocket engines, thereby skirting the legal restriction? hmmm. Like a website where you can order both ingredients and a reusable mixing chamber + exhaust for them to combust within. It might make model rocketry a little more complicated (hey, this isn't rocket science! oh, wait..) but all things considered, I'm curious what kind of altitude a model rocket can achieve with a propulsion system similar to SpaceShipOne's.
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @03:52PM (#9531700) Homepage
    Have you ever been to a high-power rocket launching? These aren't "slap-together" missles. Many of these rockets take several 10's to hundreds of hours to put together - spending anywhere from $500.00 to several thousand per rocket is not unheard of. Many of the people involved are rocket scientists and engineers in their day jobs - others are involved in other highly technical disciplines, and got their rocketeering chops from flying their own stuff. These guys know how to build big and safe engines from simple sugar (so-called sucrose or candy loads). The people involved know each other as a group, and work out trading skills and such - this guy needs and engine built (candy fuel in a PVC or alluminum tube), so he trades that for his skill at machining a nozzle from graphite or alluminum on a lathe. The launch pads themselves use pieces of alluminum rail that is pretty expensive (most of it is 80/20 style extruded alluminum). Transport, setup, and takedown is a relatively long process. None of this is cheap - not the materials, not the rockets, not the knowledge.

    I can't imagine a quick salvo being built and fired off perfectly. During the launches I have seen, more than a few failed on the pad, many failed mid-flight. I have seen video of launches that exploded on the pad (without the help of explosive tips). Lastly, none of the rockets I saw went 60 miles - hell, none broke 20,000 feet, nor went out of the flying envelope secured for the days (pretty large volume, too).

    That isn't to say that these things couldn't have been made to be missles - but the expense and expertise required to do so is huge, so huge it hasn't happenned yet, despite high-powered model rocketry being around for well over a decade (and model/experimental rocketry being around for much, much longer).

    Finally, for the people that do this - it is a hobby. These are guys (most are grown adult men with maxed out credit cards or other funding) who instead of buying a motorcycle or a boat, build large and expensive rockets to fly and amaze their peers with. As a spectator, I have found it to be an incredible and exciting hobby. It tempts me to get involved in it - I just can't afford it (either monetarily or time-wise)...

  • Re:Time to adapt? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:00PM (#9531783) Homepage
    Hybrid rockets are a start - the problem with the current crop (NOX + "plastic" fuel) is getting the NOX (not super-easy to get, nor cheap), plus the whole setup actually seems pretty dangerous (I have seen a high-power hybrid launch - the guy launching it stood next to the rocket, filled it up - when the countdown was ready he waved, turned the valves off, removed the hoses, then ran like hell - to get clear of the rocket before the ignighter hit).

    I am wondering if an inversion of this could be done - compressed gasoline or kerosene (or some other flammable liquid - methonol or something), "pumped" (the pressurization of the liquid would do this - pressurize it with an air compressor or hand pump) through a solid-fuel oxidizer core (perhaps ammonia nitrate fertilizer-based?)...

    Not sure if this would work - and I am not crazy nor experienced enough to try it out...

  • by JKarp ( 749532 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:09PM (#9531883)
    This article was head and shoulders above ANY other that's been done on high power rocketry as of late, and the FUD is nearly nil IMO. NAR is holding membership because it's focus is model rocketry and competition, not HPR. Tripoli is withering away. The local Tripoli prefecture is down from a high of 120 members to less than a dozen, and I'm one of the ones who's out of the hobby. I used to spend $200 - $400 / month on motors & supplies, and had a storage LEUP. But when the Homeland Security Act was signed and the ATF showed up at my house with pictures of Osama and his cronies and asked if I'd seen any of them (I'm NOT kidding about this), I knew it was time to get out. CP Technologies IS an interesting data point in that their sales are down 50% and their PSAN motor technology isn't even ATF regulated! People are fed up. It shouldn't be this hard to have a hobby throwing cardboard rockets into the air. JKarp. NAR #80737 TRA #5515 L2
  • Fond memories (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:11PM (#9531910)
    Once upon a time, in grade school, we made model rockets, spread all the students over the very large land area surrounding the school, and shot off the rockets one by one (with the scattered kids doing their best to catch the rockets as they parachuted down so that they wouldn't hit the ground and get damaged.)

    My rocket went up, but never came back down, at least that we could tell. I was disappointed to lose the rocket, but all the "cool" kids were trying to get their rocket to go the highest, so my disappearing rocket was a celebrity.

    Now, at the time, my parent's house was a block from the school. YEARS later, a neighbor across the street (about a block and a half away from the school) was cleaning his gutters, and found a rocket. He gave it to my mother, in case I wanted to "play around with it". Sure enough, it was MY rocket from that day in eigth grade.

    Anyway, just relating a fond memory of rocketry hijinks. And, for what it's worth, I never blew anything up, never hurt myself or others, and didn't develop into a pyromaniac.


  • by Zeriel ( 670422 ) <> on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:14PM (#9531932) Homepage Journal
    If you'd bother checking history instead of propoganda, the right of return was always open until the suicide bombing started. No one ever forced Arabs OUT in the first place. When the Jews started settling Israel, they bought land legally and settled it, and then had to fight off Arab attacks ANYWAY. In the 1948 War, most of the Arabs who fled did so on the basis of rumor and speculation and fear that the Israelis would attack civilians in repraisals for Arab destructions of Jewish villages--which, I might add, never happened. And many Arabs that started said rumors stayed, and kept their land and that of their neighbors, and made a tidy profit out of being bastards to their brother Arabs.

    Look at the Arab population still living in Israel. Full suffrage, full rights, full citizenship. I had an Arab Israeli professor in college, and several friends who visited Israel at various points, who all confirm it.

    They'd probably give that to the Palestinians, even now, if asked.

    It's this pro-terrorist propoganda I can't stand. The Israeli military is justified in just about every action it's taken against the PLO terrorists and their ilk.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#9532064)
    Someone rolls up 15 miles outside of DC, fires a salvo of these rockets with 10 lb. of explosive on each and disappears before the first one even hits?

    Anyone can invent a fearful scenario: A 747 full of pasengers and fuel, parked at the gate waiting for, what, 20 or 30 minutes for everyone to settle down and the last passengers to make it on board is a pretty static, and explosive, target. Hit the wing with a small charge delivered by a rocket or plane and kaboom! It's a bad day at the airport all around.

    The government is trying to scare us into giving up all our freedoms. Convince us that the enemy is all around us. Everywhere. And can strike at any time. We'll willingly give up our freedoms so the government can protect us. Because we want to live. That's 1984.

    War on Terror? Please. Who, specifically, are we fighting again? It's like the war on drugs. Spend lots of money. No discernable targets. Lots of media. No actual change.

    Shortly after 9/11 there was an add on TV. The add said, "The terrorists thought they would change America"... then you see a street were every house has an American flag flying. The text says, "They were right".

    The intent of the add is to show how the terrorists somehow failed because the country united.

    Actually the terrorists succeeded because we're living in fear and giving up the very freedoms that make this country great.

    You can't fight terrorism by repressing your own people. You can't fight terrorism by bombing foreign lands. Other parts of the world have lived with terrorism for years without freaking out. The key bit there is "lived with". You begin by understanding that there's no "win", there is only dialog and patience and change.

    How can you ban an extreme hobby, that has never been used to murder, and keep guns. That's just going after the easy political victories. Look at what we've done to make you safer.

    End of rant.

  • On Other News . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dausha ( 546002 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @04:31PM (#9532100) Homepage
    I saw on the History channel that the Panama Canal would not be possible today due to the environmental groups and issues. Many of yesterday's engineering feats would be stymied today because of all the environmental litigation and resistance by environmental groups. Consider, as well, the rhetoric stating that our inability to improve our energy production (i.e., electricity power plants) over the past couple of decades is for similar reasons. Even 'clean' means of producing electricity has fallen into the angst of some groups (e.g. wind-generated electricity now bad because it kills birds).

    How is that any different than the issue we have at hand? The government is imposing regulations that are making a hobby more difficult, so people are leaving the hobby. I see this as a similar issue, so I don't see why we complain about one but not the other.
  • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @05:00PM (#9532375) Journal
    Actually, it would be reserved for the states, since private citizens would not be making laws against rocketry...

    And I think the relevant amendment would be the ninth, the one that says the rights listed in the constitution are not the only ones that exist.
  • by mcheu ( 646116 ) on Friday June 25, 2004 @07:21PM (#9533428)
    We're talking about hobby rockets here. The rockets are fairly small, and can't hold a lot of payload. You can build bigger rocket motors and bigger rockets, but then we're not talking about hobby rockets anymore. For terrorism events to be successful, you need something that can be deployed quickly with a large effect. It has to be something big enough to draw attention. Think national networks, not evening news. If you think a model rocket can do that sort of damage, you need to think bigger. National coverage requires Bond villian level evil. It has to have a higher body count, and greater property damage than your typical drive-by or arson. As for using the components to make "deadly stuff". Check the net and you can find recipes for making your own solid rocket fuel. Some people make their own to save money or add effects like coloured smoke trails. You'll find the ingredients are probably already in your possession or obtainable within 30 minutes. Estes rocket packs, meanwhile are considerably more expensive, and even before 911, they were difficult to buy in any great numbers (the hobby isn't big enough to warrant that sort of production). If that freaks you out, feel free to write your local representative about banning shit and diesel fuel. If you're creative in your wording, you might just do it.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.