USAF/NASA Red Tape Cancels Launch of Model Rockets

Reader note: "The planned launch of 50 Juno I model rockets from Cape Canaveral to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Explorer I launch has now been cancelled by the station's wing commander. Although the CCAFS has no quams about launching Deltas, Atlas and other massive rockets, they go into a complete tither when it comes down to launching a 12 inch long model rocket made of balsa wood and paper weighing just under 2 oz.

The intended launching was to be used as a fund raiser for the CCAFS Museum with each of the rockets being armed with the smallest engine they can carry, an A8-3. This engine would have propelled each of these 2 oz. Juno I replicas the a computer calculated altitude and or range of only 239 feet and each is recovered with a 12 inch parachute.

The Air Force, however, upon discovery of the planned flights felt that these rockets could pose a hazard to the nearby Delta pads- which are made of concrete and steel and are more than 10 times farther from the model's launch site than the rockets can fly. With that as their reason, the Air Force started the red tape machine. Soon the USAF Jags got involved and wanted a held harmless form signed by everyone near the launch site.

Next, a USAF person of non-importance decided to contact NASA and tell them that the rockets would be firing from the actual Explorer I launch site, which was on their property. Now enters the NASA red tape machine, which demanded a full safety review (keep in mind that kids have been flying such rockets since before NASA was even created). With this red tape storm in full swing, the CCAFS wing commander's office had heard enough and scrubbed all 50 launches.

Thus, all over America on January 31, 2008 school kids and adults will celebrate the the day that the US Army launched Explorer I into space by launching model rockets. In spite of the winter conditions, the launches will take place in parks and school yards and back yards all over the United States- every place EXCEPT for Cape Canaveral.

In 1958, the US Army restored the nation's pride following Sputnik, but it seems that in 2008, the Air Force and NASA cannot even get out of their own red taped way to launch a simple rocket made of balsa wood and paper.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 30, 2008 6:01 PM.

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