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S U N D A Y

Scout leaders and the folks at Estes promote model rocketry as good, clean fun, but actual rocketeers know better. When I was a kid, I used to head out with my pyromaniac friend Joe (who considered the hobby an entree to playing with explosives and setting ants on fire with methanol, and who, incidentally, has not grown up to be a sex murderer—well, so far as I know) to a decommissioned Nike base to shoot off our miniature missiles. We experimented with insect payloads and studiously subverted all the safety features preventing horizontal launches. As we discovered, given the hours of labor required to craft a model and the poor recovery rates for high-altitude shots, the endeavor can provide callow youths with their first dose of adult-scale futility. NASA promises adult supervision at today’s model rocket launch, so participants are to be denied some of the hobby’s rewards, but wind and fate should conspire to provide several hapless kids with the disappointments of real life—not to mention the real space program. At 1 p.m. at the Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center, Greenbelt & Soil Conservation Rds., Greenbelt. FREE. (301) 286-8981. (Glenn Dixon)