November 2019 meeting

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, Reaction Research Society


The Reaction Research Society (RRS) held it’s monthly meeting on November 8, 2019 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. The society had a full agenda plus our annual nominations for the executive council. Frank Miuccio attempted to establish a teleconference at the meeting to connect our director of research, Richard Garcia, and an outside organization that wanted to address the society. This teleconferencing was successful and the society will consider having more of these to help bring in more participants on special topics.

[1] Treasurer’s report on membership and dues status

The RRS treasurer is conducting a review of our membership roster to not only update our records with the many new members that have joined us this year, but also to determine the dues status for each. Like in all non-profit organizations, regular annual dues payment is essential to keeping the society funded for the many projects we do and are planning. Upgrades at the MTA are also impacted if our membership does not keep their dues payments current.

Chris’s report was not ready at this month’s meeting, but he will be soon notifying some of our delinquent members that they need to keep their dues paid to remain in active status. It is the duty of all RRS members to keep their contact information current with the RRS treasurer. The society can not be responsible for missing communications if our members do not do their part by making this possible. Also, members who are not current in their dues payment risk losing their active status with the society.

treasurer@rrs.org

I have always paid my dues to the society on January 1st of each new year. This greatly simplifies the process and I need no reminder to do so. Membership dues ($40 USD per year) to the society can be paid through the “Donate” button on the RRS.ORG website which links to Paypal. We remind all of our donors and those paying dues in this manner to include your name in the “Notes” section along with the purpose of your donation. Without including your name, the RRS can not tell who has paid their dues.

The RRS.ORG website has more information on this subject. For any questions, please contact the RRS treasurer.

[2] Update on the next RRS MTA launch event with LAPD CSP and 99th Street Elementary School

Frank, Larry and Osvaldo are in the middle of another class, this time with 99th Street Elementary in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Community Safety Partnership (CSP). The class is going well and the final launch event is still planned for Saturday, December 7, 2019.

At this same launch event, we are also planning to host the University of Southern California’s (USC) Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (RPL) with the launch of their latest solid motor powered rocket. USC has been making continuing progress even after their landmark flight to be the first university-built rocket to break the von Karman line into space.

[3] Preparations for the 2020 RRS symposium

With the society approving the symposium for our fourth year in a row, Frank is working with the Ken Nakaoka Community Center to establish the date. Tentatively, the 2020 RRS symposium will be held Saturday, March 28, 2020. The society has decided to try to hold the symposium earlier in the year to avoid the onset of the summer heat which makes the event very uncomfortable in the absence of climate control at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center.

More information on this subject will be posted as it develops. Our symposium coordinator for the 2020 event will again be our society vice president, Frank Miuccio.

vicepresident@rrs.org

[4] RRS solid propellant making classes at the MTA

The RRS has been approached by an outside organization about conducting solid propellant motor making classes. Many years ago, the RRS held a few of these events which became very popular. The RRS has not yet decided if we will restart these classes, but a group is examining the possibility and will report back to the society on the viability of such a project.

[5] 2020 Constitutional Committee progress report

pending… carried over from October 2019 meeting report

[6] Annual elections for the RRS executive council

As required by our Constitution, the RRS appoints an election chairman to oversee and execute nominations and balloting for each of the four executive council offices for new terms starting in the new calendar year. Larry Hoffing, again, agreed to be our election chairman for this cycle.

Nominations were held and were open to our administrative membership. Nominations were received and our election chairman will be sending out ballots by email. This is another good example of why all members should keep their contact information current remain in active status with the society. Balloting will be closed prior to the next monthly meeting in December and the results announced at that meeting.

[7] CSFM committee on amateur rocketry

Last month, the RRS and Mark Holthaus of the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) met to discuss a list of proposed changes to the California State Fire Marshal’s (CSFM) definitions that govern amateur rocketry. This small group was intended to be made from active amateur rocketry groups around California to help advise the CSFM subcommittee on changes that would help improve regulation of amateur rocketry and make needed clarifications to help all groups continue to operate safely and legally.

from left to right, Mark Holthaus (Treasurer of FAR), Osvaldo Tarditti (RRS president), Larry Hoffing (RRS events coordinator), Dave Nordling (RRS secretary) meet to discuss proposed definition changes to CSFM laws governing amateur rocketry, 10/15/2019

The RRS and FAR held a second meeting at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center which included David Reese of the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC). ROC members, Chris Kobel and David Reese have been very helpful in providing helpful improvements to how the certain classes of rocketry are defined.

This amateur rocketry committee will be presenting their collective suggestions to the Fire Marshal in early December 2019. The RRS, FAR, ROC and the rest of the amateur rocketry groups in California are glad to assist the CSFM office in making these suggested updates.

[8] Social media updates

pending….regular report from Alastair Martin and/or Bill Janczewski

[9] Compton Comet STEM club formation and program

pending… update from Kent Schwitkis

IN CLOSING

The next RRS meeting will be December 13, 2019. If there are any corrections or additions to make for the monthly report, please contact the RRS secretary.

secretary@rrs.org


In Memoriam: Brandy (Robert “Bob”) Bruce-Sharp (1953-2019)

by Larry Hoffing, Events Coordinator, Reaction Research Society and Korey Kline (contributing)


In January 2019, Brandy (Robert “Bob”) Bruce-Sharp passed away. As reported by Mark Clark and Tripoli, Brandy went quickly from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the BALLS 28 launch this past September, Brandy and wife Abbie’s ashes were launched and spread in an Aerotech M1939 rocket.

from left to right; Robin Meredith, Jim Bornwell, Jane (Brandy’s sister), Mark Clark, Gary Rosenfield

Bob was my friend and fellow student at Los Angeles (Robert H. Goddard) Pierce College rocket club that I founded in the early 1970’s. Around this time we met a high school kid named Korey Kline, he was only fifteen at the time but already a veteran shop mechanic. His high school rocket club, inspired by the Pierce club, found a Korean War five-inch diameter HVAR rocket at a vacant military recruiting office.

Bob Bruce, Korey Kline and Larry Hoffing of the Robert H. Goddard Rocket Society of Pierce College in Los Angeles
Bob Bruce and Larry Hoffing stand at a launch rack

We proceeded to convert it to a zinc-sulfur rocket which required bolting some ports of the multiport nozzle shut, adding fins, and a payload section- I think Bob’s mother sewed the parachute. I did most of the machining in the school’s metal shop while some of the welding students added the fins. I remember hauling the thing, which weighed about 40 lbs unloaded, for a show-and-tell presentation at the Pacific Rocket Society (PRS) which met at the (now defunct) Northrop Institute of Technology in El Segundo.  B. J. Humphreys was the PRS president at that time.

B. J. Humphreys, president of the Pacific Rocket Society, builder and pilot of the world’s first rocket-powered wheelchair
Bob Bruce and Larry Hoffing in September 1972

Bob named the rocket “Bifrost” (pronounced “BIF-roast”) which is the old Norse term for the rainbow bridge to Asgard.  Our mission was to fly Bifrost at the Mojave Test Area (MTA) near the town of Cantil, CA, where the RRS, FAR and Polaris Inc. (under the direction of Dave Crisalli) currently test. In those days the bunker was covered with telephone poles that had been trucked out by RRS member John Mariano and his cousin in the 1960’s.  There’s a pile of them still laying at the MTA to this day! Access to the site was by dune buggy. The yellow blockhouse with its ballistic glass windows still stands at the RRS MTA.

This sets the scene for the launch of the missile on a wooden home-built Bruce rack – 3 aluminum fins had been welded onto a cowling over the casing as we hadn’t realized the launch racks were built for four-fin rockets (Hint: let your new members know about the launch rack configuration ahead of time). The PRS had most of the pyro-op’s at that time.  The PRS pyro-op in charge was afraid we’d blow up the rocket and surrounding area so he made us fill the casing half way with sand. It must have weighed 80 lbs.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ignition! The rocket lifted off, flew a short distance, and crashed. The failure to go the distance was attributed to the multi nozzle ports, we didn’t bolt enough of them shut to build pressure. There is a photo of it flying, I gave it to my machine shop professor, and unfortunately don’t have a copy.

Bob was a consummate modeler and draftsman. He won top prize from Estes in 1972 for his remote control Space Shuttle which was a thing of beauty.

Bob Bruce wins first prize in 1972

Bob started a rocket kit company with Korey in the mid 1970’s called California Model Rockets, a precursor to large/high power rocketry. One of my biggest regrets in life is not joining them in this endeavor. Bob and I had previously invented the largest model rocket in the world we called “The Wopper” . The California State Fire Marshal rules at the time was that model rockets had a weight limit of 1 lbm including the motor, so designing it was no easy task. We got the brilliant idea one day of enclosing foam rings and horizontal balsa slats with construction paper to create giant tubes. The biggest F-sized motor at the time was F-100’s made by Flight Systems Inc. The large model rocket flew spectacularly to about 300 feet.

Bob relocated to Arizona sometime in the 1980’s to pursue drafting, and afterward I lost touch with him. However, my memories are vivid of us mixing and testing “Blue Knight” candy fuel (sugar motors), and launching model rockets at Half (Hof) Mile Square in Fountain Valley, CA (a former air ship site) with the Westchester YMCA Rocket Club. Hof Mile was a trip. Wheeled sail cars raced around on the landing strip as we launched rockets. We’d even have to pick up the gate keys from the local base commander. It was here while looking for a rocket in the tumbleweed that I stumbled upon a huge, beautiful red fox when the area was still wild back then.

Korey remembers Bob as his earliest mentor for rocketry. “By example he taught me to think outside the box!” Korey says he was only fifteen when he met us and we (and his mother) had to drive him to the rocket club meetings. Bob also introduced Korey to B. J. Humphreys of the PRS and Gary Rosenfield at the RRS.

One project we all worked on together was building the Hang Loose Hang Glider, a biplane glider made of bamboo, wood, wire, & plastic sheeting. We cut and bent bamboo spars for the airfoil wings at Korey’s house over his mom’s gas stove. The glider had around a 14-foot wingspan and a 12-foot rudder.  It was Korey that drew the short straw to fly first. With Korey hanging in the center and the two of us at the wing tips we took off running from the top of a hill in Granada Hills. Korey lifted off about 10 feet in the air and started sailing down towards a school fence at the bottom where he bailed out before hitting.

Another thing we did that I can mention now was flying model rockets out of Korey’s in ground swimming pool. We sealed the motor and electric igniter with wax and lowered the rocket and launch pad to the bottom of the pool with the controller on deck. All I can say is that a sea launched rocket is pretty cool when it breaks the surface!

There were many interesting things we did with Bob and we remember him dearly. He loved his muscle car too, I remember other drivers on the 405 Freeway coming along side trying to race us, but Bob wasn’t a speeder, just a tinkerer. I often wonder what became of that car.

Mark Clark further reports on the Tripoli members forum:

“Brandy [aka Bob] started flying rockets in the 1960’s and at Miles Square Park and very early Lucerne launches. Getting into high power in the late 1980’s, he had moved to the Phoenix area and was a founding member of Arizona High Power Rocketry Association (AHPRA).

Brandy started Sonic Systems that locally sold reloads and nationally 7 1/2″ sized mosquito-type nosecones. Those who saw the ads in High Powered Rocketry (HPR) magazine will remember them. Brandy was also involved with the BALLS launch for the 18 years AHPRA was involved and a frequent poster to these forums. Brandy was a great friend for nearly 30 years.”

www.ahpra.com

www.ballslaunch.com

Brandy “Bob” Bruce-Sharp at the BALLS 25 launch with his up-scaled Centuri Enerjet 2650 rocket

October 2019 meeting

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, Reaction Research Society


The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our monthly meeting on Friday, October 11, 2019. We had a full agenda with three presenters and a lot discuss with upcoming events. 

We had a few new people come to our meeting including Frank Chandler who works with the Cal Poly Pomona liquid rocket project.  Frank joined the RRS as a member and we hope to see him and his students at future meetings and launch events.

Frank Chandler and Frank Miuccio talk after the conclusion of the October 11, 2019 meeting

We were also happy to have several Compton College students from their newly formed STEM club attend our meeting.  The RRS is glad to support the efforts of university students in their ambitions to build liquid rockets and we’re happy to add Compton College to the growing list of organizations we support.

RRS members Jerry Fuller and John Krell listen to Wolfram Blume’s presentation at the October 11, 2019 meeting.

We called the meeting to order and after the reading of the treasury report, we started the first of our presentations.

Wolfram Blume explains the parts of his two-stage rocket to our audience at the October 2019 meeting of the RRS
Wolfram holds the commercial solid motor he’ll use to propel his ramjet engine up to sufficient speed to start

[1] The Gas Guzzler Ramjet Project

Wolfram Blume is a new member to the society and he has been working for over eight years on a unique kind of rocket project that has been very rare in the long years of our society and probably in amateur rocketry as a whole.  His two-stage rocket consists of a first-stage solid rocket booster using a commercial grade motor and a gasoline-fueled ramjet engine as a second stage.  Both stages have a parachute recovery system and an onboard fuel management system. 

Wolfram Blume holds his 3-D printed fuel manifold at the inlet of his ramjet engine
Wolfram pulls his recovery system from within the ramjet engine to show how it is stowed and deployed with a redundant firing system.

Wolfram’s presentation was very thorough as this project is very complex.  The RRS is still assessing the project in all of its aspects.  With Wolfram’s permission, we’ll share the full set of details in a separate report here on RRS.ORG.  The Gas Guzzler project still needs several more static tests conducted to prove key parts of the combustor.  Flight tests of a dummy, unfueled ramjet and the solid booster are also being discussed.  We hope to share more details as this exciting project evolves.

The inlet of the ramjet for the Gas Guzzler project.

The RRS is happy to consider propulsion projects of all kinds, but every project must be peer-reviewed by the RRS before it is accepted for any testing at the MTA.  Testing at the RRS MTA is by appointment only.  All persons and groups interested in testing at the RRS MTA must submit a standard record form and all details of their proposed project. Our standard record form is available for download on our RRS.ORG website.  These materials must be submitted to the RRS president and after careful review that a test can be scheduled.

president@rrs.org


[2] Bill Behenna, Avionics Payload for the RRS standard alpha rocket

With the many school events we’ve been having through the LAPD CSP, we have had many alpha rockets getting flown out of the MTA.  The payload tubes are typically empty which creates a great opportunity for others to build and fly payloads in these small but powerful rockets being launched many times throughout the year.

Bill Behenna has been actively working on making a customized instrumentation package that would fit within the small confines of the long alpha payload tube.  Barometric pressure measurements, accelerometer readings and air temperature would be recorded on a solid-state memory chip which have been shown to survive even the harsh sudden stop into the dry lake bed floor if the parachute recovery system fails.

Bill Behenna’s breadboard of his instrumentation payload is taking shape.

Bill talked about his testing with his breadboard model using Arduino modules and an UNO microprocessor.  These instrumentation packages can be challenging to make, but they can offer a lot of great information on the flight.  The quality of data collection devices are ever increasing and the size and price of these instruments are ever decreasing.  It is a great time to be in amateur rocketry.  Many commercially available rocket instrumentation packages exist and are used more and more frequently in model rocketry.  The particular challenge with the RRS standard alpha is its compact size and metallic construction.

John Krell and Bill Behenna discuss their instrumentation packages before the start of the meeting in October 2019

[3] Review of John Krell’s Flight Data

In parallel to Bill Behenna’s efforts, John Krell has been working on a slim instrumentation package that measures the three-axis acceleration, barometric pressure and air temperature readings.  He conducted several tests of his system which was able to record data and a speed sufficient to capture the rapid combustion of the alpha flight.

John was able to get his first prototype, actually two prototypes, ready to fly in alpha rockets #9 and #10 at the September 21 launch event.  More importantly, the rockets were located downrange and extracted intact for examination.  The data confirmed that the burnout velocity is in fact subsonic, the burn time is just short of 0.40 seconds and the altitude of both rockets is around 4000 feet. What is surprising is that the maximum acceleration from the alpha exceeds even the 100G limit of the sensor.

John Krell begins his presentation at the October 2019 meeting of the RRS about the flight data captures in two RRS alpha flights on 9/21/2019 at the MTA

John’s report was very thorough and with his permission, the RRS will publish the full details of his project in a separate article here on RRS.ORG.  The most important thing is that John is already building more units for more rocket flights that will take place at another launch event at the MTA.  With more data, the flight parameters of the RRS alpha can be even better resolved.


[4] RRS presents at the CATIE conference at Antelope Valley College

The RRS was asked by Dr. Khalil Dajani to present at the California Aerospace Technology Institute of Excellence (CATIE) at the Antelope Valley College (AVC) in Lancaster, California on September 18, 2019.  The conference was an event for government and commercial companies in the Antelope Valley to network and to forge beneficial partnerships in the aerospace industry.  

I had asked Drew Cortopassi to attend the conference on behalf of the RRS.  Drew was also able to attend the conference on behalf of the Aerospace Corporation as he works in the Propulsion Testing Lab in El Segundo.  The RRS introduced ourselves as an educational non-profit group with resources that can help government and commercial companies with modest testing facilities.  The RRS was also proud to share with the audience our long history in the pursuit of reaction propulsion and research.

Drew Cortopassi summarizes his experiences at the CATIE conference at AVC on behalf of the RRS.

[5] RRS social media

Alastair Martin is one of our two social media advisors to the RRS.  As part of our regular monthly agenda, he briefed our audience on our Instagram and Facebook sites that we maintain along with the main website.  Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC, is producing the Rocket Talk Radio podcast which includes RRS members and discusses current and historical topics related to rocketry.

RRS event coordinator, Larry Hoffing, talks with Alastair Martin, social media advisor to the RRS, after the October 2019 meeting

[6] RRS launch events at the MTA

The RRS had a successful launch event with Boyle Heights on September 21 as detailed in a prior firing report.  The RRS is glad to announce that another launch event will occur at the MTA before the year’s end.

The RRS program at Boyle Heights was a success. The air launcher is a great teaching tool.
The balloon on a string is another great illustration of the jet propulsion principle.
RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio, gives one of his classroom presentations at Boyle Heights Elementary.

Frank Miuccio, our society vice president and our point of contact with the LAPD CSP, announced the next educational event will begin on October 25, 2019.  This 5-week course will be with 99th Street Elementary School in Watts.  The final step is the launch event at the RRS MTA on December 7, 2019.  The exact number of rockets is not known yet, but we are expecting 10 alphas.


[7] The RRS history project

The RRS history project is an on-going task to archive and collect all historical materials.  George Garboden has graciously donated a large number of documents to the society for storage, archival and scanning.  The RRS is glad to accept these materials to help bring more of our history to more of our members.  More than just the careful preservation of the reports and papers, is the larger task of sorting and scanning them.  We hope to enlist more of our membership to devote the time and care needed for the long-term success of this project.


[8] Update from the 2020 Constitutional Committee

The RRS Constitution is in the process of being revised to better reflect how the society functions today and making important clarifications of parts that were somewhat ambiguous.   This three-person committee was appointed by the executive council in February this year and consists of one executive council member, Frank Miuccio, and two of our administrative members in the society. 

Drew Sherman, Frank Miuccio, Mike Albert and Mohammed Daya listen as John Krell makes his presentation to the RRS on October 11, 2019.

The painstaking task of going through every page and every paragraph of the Constitution is almost half finished.  After a complete review of the whole document, the committee will present it’s findings and a recommended draft to the administrative membership for their questions and comments.  This was hoped to be completed by November 2019 with the goal of attempting ratification by the new year, 2020.

The committee has decided to continue the use of an RRS policy listing which would contain the more specific or quantitative aspects of the society such as the annual dues amounts.  Simpler and less categorical changes could be amended more easily by the council or by the administrative membership.  The Constitution itself requires a higher level of approval for any changes which includes a two-thirds majority vote by the administrative membership.  There will be more on this subject when the committee completes it’s initial task hopefully by next month’s meeting in November 2019.


[9]  The 2020 symposium

The RRS agreed to hold the next symposium in 2020 continuing the annual tradition.  Our membership commitment to making this next symposium an even larger and greater success is strong.  Frank is working on confirming the next symposium date which may be March 28, 2020, if the Ken Nakaoka Community Center can confirm.  The society will try to hold this event a little earlier in the year to hopefully avoid the onset of the warmer temperatures.  The community center does not have air-conditioning and we do expect a larger crowd as this has been the trend since we restarted symposium events in 2017.


[10] The treasurer’s report on membership

Chris Lujan, the RRS treasurer was not able to provide his report on our membership roster and status.  We hope to bring this report to the next meeting where we will show how well the society is doing in keeping current with receiving annual dues payments and show how much our membership roster has grown in these last few years.


[11] Reminder for annual nominations for RRS Executive Council at the November meeting

Per our Constitution, the RRS will be taking nominations for each of the four executive council positions at the RRS.  Positions are only open to administrative members of the RRS, and we have been expanding our ranks with former administrative members returning to active status and newer members being inducted in the last two years.  Nominations can be made at the next meeting of the RRS, November 8, 2019.

The 2019 RRS Executive Council: Dave Nordling, Osvaldo Tarditti, Frank Miuccio and Chris Lujan

With nominations received, the RRS will appoint an election chairman, to conduct the voting process with the results announced at the December 13, 2019 meeting.  All elected executive council members will begin their new terms at the start of the new calendar year, January 1, 2020.


[IN CLOSING}

This October 2019 meeting was one of the best we’ve had since my time with the RRS.  A lot of great projects are in the making and we’re getting more and more data to share with the society.  The society is growing and we’re glad that our enthusiasm is spreading.

The next meeting will be November 8, 2019, on the second Friday of each month as usual at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.  If there are any questions about this October meeting, please contact the RRS secretary.  Hope to see everyone back again in November..

secretary@rrs.org