December 2018 meeting

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held its final monthly meeting of our 75th anniversary year, 2018, on our usual 2nd Friday, December 14th.

We were glad to be visited by Waldo Stakes, Curator of the Saxon Museum in Boron, California, and well-known rocket car maker. Wilbur Owens was kind enough to bring Waldo to the meeting.

Wilbur Owens and Waldo Stakes at the December 2018 RRS meeting in Gardena, newly elected RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan looks on

The agenda for December was kept short as the RRS wanted to take some time to celebrate our accomplishments this year.

After coming to order and the reading of the treasury report, we began the shortened agenda.

[1]
The results of the elections were announced by email from our election chairman, Larry Hoffing, who could not attend. The full slate of officer candidates were voted unanimously with no write-in’s.

The RRS officers for 2019 are as follows:

President – Osvaldo Tarditti
Vice President – Frank Miuccio
Secretary – Dave Nordling
Treasurer – Chris Lujan

We thank our appointed election chairman, Larry, for his service.

The newly elected officers will start their new terms at the beginning of the calendar year. All of our appointed positions at the RRS remain the same as the executive council has voted to retain them. We are thankful to all of our new and continuing membership for making this an important milestone year for the society.

[2]
The next topic was to discuss the UCLA hot fire event at the MTA in November. Osvaldo was very impressed with the UCLA team in how well they communicated and their preparation for a safe hot-fire test. Despite having an earlier setback, they recovered to have a hot-fire in the early night hours that gave them valuable data for their next design iteration. The RRS is glad to support university groups with our testing site. It is great when everyone puts safety and organization first.

Osvaldo reads off the list of events we conducted at the RRS over this anniversary year, 2018; Michael Lunny looks on

The RRS has had other university groups express interest in using our Mojave Test Area (MTA). To any groups wanting to use the RRS MTA, please contact the RRS president by email.

president@rrs.org

We also appreciate each group filling out our RRS standard record form to help explain the basics of what they would like to accomplish. The standard record form can be found under “Forms” on the RRS website.

[3]
The last of the scheduled agenda topics was the announcement of the official date of the 2019 RRS symposium. The symposium will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. As before, we will have entire first floor and outdoor courtyard.

The 2019 RRS symposium will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019

The RRS has had great success in getting a range of speakers from industry, academia and government agencies. We plan to invite the Navy China Lake, Air Force Space and Missile Center, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Northrop Grumman, Relativity and the Additive Rocket Corporation just to name a few, as well as several of our local and regional university rocketry groups such as UCLA, USC, Cal Poly Pomona, CSULB and LMU just to name a few. In the new year as invitations go out and we get confirmation, we will update our agenda for the April symposium. We hope to have an even larger turnout both on our stage, at the exhibition and of course our public audience.

The RRS will be holding a 2-hour panel session as the final event in our speaker series. The RRS is working on building this panel from a good cross-section of industry, government and academia to look at the state of affairs in space today and looking ahead to what may come next as the industry expands.

To those who stayed to the end last year, we were provided a rare treat by former member Bill Claybaugh as he presented his assessment of the current aerospace industry. We would strongly encourage everyone to plan to stay the full day as we will be bringing out more special things as the day goes on.

[9]
This topic was on the original agenda, but we thought we wouldn’t have time. RRS member, Alastair Martin, through his company, Production Tribe, is starting a pod-cast called Rocket Talk Radio. RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, and the RRS secretary, Dave Nordling, have agreed to be the first guests on this pod-cast that will talk about current topics in space and rocketry. As the first few podcasts are made, he’ll look to have other guests, to talk for an hour over a range of questions posed by Alastair and the participating audience.

[X1]
Osvaldo went over the long list of events we held at the RRS starting with the Aerospace Corporation launch test of their prototype liquid-hybrid rocket motor, the three launch events we held through the LAPD Community Safety Partnership (CSP) program where we were able to engage 112 kids in the at-risk communities of Watts in Los Angeles. Both USC and UCLA had a lot of success in their respective rocket programs.

Although USC did have a major setback in their Traveller III flight, they are well positioned for a very successful flight on their long journey to be the first university group to break the von Karman line into space with their boosted dart. The RRS is glad to be recurring partner with USC by assisting with their ground testing needs.

UCLA has also had a successful year with their liquid rocket programs and the RRS is glad to continue our support.

New RRS member, Dmitri Timohovich, and myself journeyed out to the MTA on December 2 for a site improvement project to mount the new road sign we had made. As I was feeling very under the weather on that afternoon, Dmitri did a stellar job in helping the society put a visible marker at our big iron gate leading the way into the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA). The RRS thanks Dmitri for his hard work for the society.

Dmitri Timohovich makes short work of digging post holes with his motorized auger machine.

The new RRS sign at the first iron gate to the Mojave Test Area ready to greet the next visitors

[X2]
RRS member, Jack Oswald, presented his current progress with his large solid motor building project. His team have been working hard this year having some successes and failures, but always learning. His new ballistic evaluation motor design will correct some of the prior deficiencies in the earlier design and is expected to produce high quality results that should finalize his motor design. Jack and his team from the former Chaminade rocketry group have made a lot of progress and have also helped me with my smaller BEM design. Based on our conversation at the December meeting, I think I will have to re-visit some of my assumptions. Many thanks to Jack and his team’s hard work in supporting the society with their ambitious goals.

[X3]
RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, was not able to attend the December meeting, but he did provide a progress update for the RRS standard liquid project. His injector and chamber design is nearly finished and seems to have all the right features to proceed with build. The injector design is based on a previous design used by the RRS in past liquid rocket projects. He is also re-using his ablative chamber liner feature for this smaller 125-lbf LOX-ethanol engine design. His analytical model of the propellant blowdown system seem to anchor his predictions for what will hopefully be a successful hot fire test in this coming new year, 2019. The RRS is working hard to anchor a reliable and simple to build liquid rocket engine system that university groups can use for liquid rocket competitions in the future without having to start completely from scratch. We will provide updates as this project advances.

[X4]
Richard also brought up the idea of building a rocket sculpture to the right of our big iron gate at the MTA. The society welcomed the idea and we hope to bring this concept to life sometime very soon.

Richard Garcia’s rocket sculpture concept; soon to be seen at the RRS MTA

[X5]
Lastly, Frank was presented with a Community Service award by the Los Angeles Women Police Officers and Associates (LAWPOA) to honor the continuing work of the Reaction Research Society with the LAPD CSP. It is with great pleasure that the RRS accepts this recognition and reaffirms our commitment to this strong program that has done a lot of good for the young minds we hope to inspire.

Bill Janczewski holds up the LAWPOA Community Service award presented to the Reaction Research Society; I think I caught Frank a little off-guard in this photo? He was very pleased.

Our next monthly meeting will be on Friday, January 11, 2019. For an update on our intended agenda for each meeting, check the RRS.ORG website under the “Forum” section.

We look forward to starting the new year with preparations for the 2019 symposium and we will need our full membership to help make this event an even greater success.

Also, the RRS is talking about holding one of our monthly meetings at the Tomorrow’s Museum at the Compton Airport. Also, Jack Oswald has been working on getting tours of The Boring Company in Hawthorne and the Point Mugu Naval Base sometime in the new year.

The RRS wishes everyone happy holidays and a happy new year.

MTA event, 2018-11-17

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) was glad to offer our Mojave Test Area (MTA) to UCLA for a series of tests of their liquid rocket. This was a private event, but Osvaldo and Elisa were there to witness a successful hot-fire series.

UCLA has been working on liquid rockets and this event was to test the improved version of their 650 lbf thrust LOX/ethanol engine. After validating minor modifications to the plumbing and an improved mechanism for their pneumatic valve actuators, UCLA expected good performance from this test with an expected burn time of 13.8 seconds and an expected total impulse of 9000 lbf-sec.

UCLA makes preparations on their liquid rocket, 11-17-2018 at the MTA

Other improvements include collecting better data. Data collection has been a challenge for many teams over the years. Tank, manifold and chamber pressure measurements were successful combined with thermocouples on the LOX lines for a better estimate of density and on the engine outer surface to anchor heat transfer assumptions. This temperature data has helped to better anchor their estimates of characteristic velocity (C*) and specific impulse (Isp). UCLA was not making direct flow rate measurements in this test, but has planned to do so in another forthcoming test.

UCLA’s liquid rocket in position

UCLA has also been giving their newer student team members opportunities on this project by passing knowledge gained from the more experienced members as turnover is a necessity with graduation.

UCLA liquid rocket hot fire way after sunset, 11-17-2018

Results from the hot-fire seemed to show that UCLA’s computational models were fairly close to actual performance. Total impulse was less than predicted at 8174 lbf-sec, average thrust at 467 lbf and peak thrust at 550 lbf, but a longer than predicted burn duration of 17.0 seconds.

These are good results but improvements can be made, particularly in getting direct propellant flow rate measurements. Both C* and Isp can be directly measured from propellant flow rate.

Further refinement of their assumptions based on this new hard data will help them in their next hot-fire planned for January 2019. The RRS is glad to assist UCLA and other universities with their liquid rocket projects at our Mojave Test Area (MTA). The RRS is ready to help UCLA take their next step in the new year.

We will surely discuss the results of this and the upcoming test of UCLA’s liquid rocket at the next RRS meeting, Friday, December 14th, 7:30pm, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.

Spaceport L.A. holds its Rocktoberfest event at Relativity Space

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) was very fortunate to attend an event sponsored by Spaceport L.A. This “Rocktoberfest” event held on November 15, 2018, was at the Relativity Space offices in Inglewood. This was a sold-out event with many people present from industry and the space-loving public.

A full house in attendance of the Spaceport L.A. panel session held at Relativity Space, 11-15-2018

Spaceport L.A. is an organization aiming to unite, build and support a space professional community in the thriving heart of Los Angeles. Through discussions, meetings and events held by Spaceport L.A., their aim is to propel further innovations and potentially foster breakthroughs to enhance space exploration. Members include technical professionals from all disciplines and other passionate individuals with the same aim to support the space community. The RRS naturally fits with these goals and we hope to have Spaceport L.A. participate at the 2019 RRS symposium at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena in April (exact date to be confirmed soon).

Spaceport L.A. – main website

The event brought a good crowd with people from Virgin Orbit, SpaceX, Phase Four, Aerospace Corporation and other professional organizations. The pork schnitzel offered from the food truck outside and the beer served at the event made for a fine supper before the panel discussion that was to take place.

Contrary to the hopes of many, Relativity did not offer a tour of their facilities at the event, but several members of Relativity were in attendance including former University of Southern California (USC) Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL) member and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Relativity, Jordan Noone. I had a chance to talk with Jordan and his new Director of Propulsion at Relativity, Nate Scholten.

Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS, standing with Nate Scholten, Director of Propulsion at Relativity Space; in the background is the massive 3D printed aluminum upper stage tank prototype on display

Relativity is an orbital launch company founded in 2015 by Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone that is taking a fundamentally new approach to building and flying rockets. With its customized and proprietary 3D printing technologies, they plan to iteratively build rockets at a cost and speed that better enables humanity’s visions in space.

Relativity Space

Also, in attendance at the event was Mike Kwapisz, Vice President of Engineering at Phase Four (P4). Phase Four is an El Segundo based start-up company making a new RF-based electrode-less, electromagnetic-based propulsion system. The “Maxwell” engine is designed for high reliability, long operating life and is modular for smaller low-power satellites to larger spacecraft systems.

The panel discussion had many fine speakers representing a wide swath of newer aerospace industries. Tim Buzza, former SpaceX manager and now a director at Relativity Space, gave a very insightful talk about his early days at SpaceX with the Falcon 1 and the trying times they had in bringing a new launch vehicle to the market.

Dr. Greg Autry, also on the panel, is a founding director of the Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative at the USC Marshall School of Business. He offered many great insights about how the commercial space market has grown from once a purely speculative concept to an expanding and thriving industry in the United States and abroad.

Spaceport L.A. panel discussion, Marco Villa (Tyvak), Tim Buzza (Relativity Space), James Behmer (Phase Four) and Gene Autry (USC) with Curtis Iwata moderating.

James Behmer of Phase Four was also on the panel and shared a bit of their history in bringing a new modular propulsion technology into the growing small satellite market.

Lastly, Marco Villa, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, was on the panel sharing his insights from his previous days at SpaceX as the Director of Mission Operations. Dr. Villa also talked about how Irvine based, Tyvak is developing nano-satellites for the growing market. He also mentioned an interesting statistic that today there are over 100 companies world-wide that are endeavoring to offer access to space. In an age of consolidation, it is good to hear how the market is expanding in some respects.

Space[prt L.A.’s banner hangs below Relativity Space’s 3D printed aluminum upper stage tank on display

The panel discussion was fascinating and I hope Spaceport L.A. will sponsor another event soon. I am very thankful to Curtis Iwata and all of the volunteers at Spaceport L.A. for coordinating a great evening that fostered many great discussions with more to come in the future. I have left a link to the Spaceport L.A. website above and a few links below to the companies represented on the panel. Also, I am grateful to Relativity Space for opening their doors for this networking event through Spaceport L.A. It was a fascinating night.

Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. – a Terran Orbital company

Relativity Space

Phase Four – advanced spacecraft propulsion

USC Marshall School of Business – Dr. Greg Autry

Please look for the next RRS event or just stop into one of our monthly meetings at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. Our next meeting will be Friday, December 14, 2018, at 7:30pm.