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I took picture you see above today when I stopped in to Target to pick up a few things. I know the picture’s crappy and blurry, but the picture’s not important — it’s what’s in the picture that’s important: these are freakin’ rocket engines, and they’re available in a plain ‘ole department store.

Model rocketry is incredible fun, and educational at all sorts of levels. But for years stores have been scared silly to carry the black powder engines because of lawsuit-happy parents of undermonitored children. Thank God everyone’s decided that rockets really are for kids again.

I worked as a camp counselor for a few years in college, and I build easily well over 1,000 rockets — most of ’em two-stagers — with kids. During the entire time, not one child was injured. Not one. Even most of the counselors who built foolish designs and launched them in unsafe manners (after hours, of course) never got hurt.

Anyway, who knows what future rocket scientists will find their love of rocketry at Target. Granted, they didn’t offer much of a selection of rockets — mainly the pre-built type with the not-gonna-fail-no-matter-what plastic fins — but still, it’s a start.

Toolmonger’s Photo Pool [Flickr]


6 Responses to A Return To Sanity — At Department Stores

  1. Mike says:

    Funny, I had the exact same camp experience as a counselor in the early 80’s. Lots of models built, no injuries, after hours missiles made from scrap and one of the ambitious campers made a rocket car that we set off down the road.
    Great fun, and not dangerous at all.


  2. Steve Thompson says:

    What a beautiful thing…sigh.

  3. PutnamEco says:

    Low powered rocketry has had little controversy since 9/11 but high powered rocketry has had a battle with the ATF over low explosive user permits for rocket motors.
    In 2002 ATF declared ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) an explosive, almost killing high powered rocketry. this has recently been overturned and some semblance of sanity has returned. Not all is well though.

    if your really interested follow the legal proceedings at.


  4. Brau says:

    Still don’t see any chemistry sets though. God no! That’d be training terrorists, right?

    I am soo glad I grew up in a time when we could experiment without being branded criminals. I feel sorry for kids today.

  5. Teacher says:

    I’ve been teaching high school physics for 20 years and for all 20 of those I have had my students build rockets. Not one kid hurt out of the 1500+ kids in those 20 years.

  6. Chris says:

    Umm, Wal-Mart has sold these for as long as I can remember and a couple of years ago they had drag cars that used these cartridges.

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