Model rocket propellant

Shortly after 9/11 ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) used in model rocketry and the shuttle boosters was listed as an explosive to be regulated by the BATF. What is odd about this is that APCP is a good rocket propellant because it is not explosive. The NY Times has an article about the issue with more spin than an electron. According to the article:

The proposed exemption grew out of complaints from rocket hobbyists who said the new regulations would essentially ground them by requiring many users of model rockets to register with the federal government and go through background checks before using certain regulated explosives to launch their rockets.

While registration, background checks, and submitting to random warrantless searches is a legitimate complaint, it is not the crux of the issue. What is really gounding the rocketry hobbyists is the inability to go to a launch event and obtain commercial engines. Now that the BATF considers rocket engines "explosives", a whole bunch of regulatory burdens come into play in regards to transporting, selling, and using rocket engines.

But the effort to lift those restrictions is now drawing sharp objections from several lawmakers and from the Justice Department, which warned that one version of the legislation would give terrorists the power to hit targets five miles away.

Which is somehow worse than an SUV with a range of over 300 miles or a 767 with a range of thousands of miles?

Senators Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, standing alongside a seven-foot-high model rocket at a news conference today, said the proposal would allow terrorists to exploit a loophole to gather explosive materials used in numerous bombings.

There is far more explosive energy in the typical kitchen.

The Justice Department, in a June 10 letter declaring that it "strongly opposed" lifting the restrictions, noted that APCP is classified as an explosive and is so powerful that it is used in the boosters for space shuttles.

Well APCP is a pretty good rocket propellant. APCP is used for the Shuttle specifically because it is safe and does not make a good bomb, pretty important factors for vehicles carrying test pilots, scientists, and congressmen. Also the fuel used in some radio-controlled aircraft is actually more powerful than the fuel used in military jets. Shall we restrict the sale of gasolines and kerosenes?

More importantly, is it really a good idea to limit and harass fledgling rocket scientists?

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