March 2020 Meeting – *Cancelled*

by Andrew Cortopassi, Secretary, Reaction Research Society

The RRS executive council cancelled the March 13th meeting out of general concerns surrounding COVID-19.  The RRS plans to maintain our regular monthly meeting schedule and provide notice of meeting cancellations one at a time on RRS.ORG as time progresses.  The RRS monthly meetings have always been and shall always be on the 2nd Friday of each calendar month.  We will also continue to meet at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center at 7:30 pm unless prior change notification is posted on RRS.ORG.

The Ken Nakaoka Community Center has given the RRS notice that they will be closed for all events out to April 30, 2020, for concerns regarding COVID-19.  This will include our next monthly meeting, April 10th, 2020.  At this time, according to our next monthly meeting will be May 8th, 2020.

Given the closure of the Ken Nakaoka Community Center, the 2020 RRS symposium scheduled for April 18th is also cancelled.  Our symposium coordinator and society VP, Frank Miuccio, is working on rescheduling sometime in September or October with a new date to be announced as soon as we can.

Testing at the RRS MTA will continue during this time if this can be done in small groups.  All testing at the RRS MTA is done by appointment and scheduled with the RRS president which is the same policy we have always had.  Please contact the RRS president for questions about the use of the RRS MTA.

We wish everyone to be well as the world moves through these extraordinary challenges.  Be safe, be well, and look after each other.

February 2020 Meeting

by Andrew Cortopassi, Secretary, Reaction Research Society

The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our February monthly meeting on February 14, 2020, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. It was an intimate meeting, primarily comprised of the executive council. Attendance numbers were low likely do to the large number of romantic RRS members, the 31st Annual Western Winter Blast Pyrotechnics Show in Lake Havasu City, or other adventures over the long weekend.

Those that were present enjoyed an informal meeting discussing a number of topics. We primarily focused on the previous three MTA launch events since the last meeting; each of which are highlighted with RRS website articles. We also discussed the upcoming CSFM meeting and the RRS symposium.

RRS Rocket and Space Exhibit & Symposium

The 2020 Reaction Research Society Rocket and Space Exhibit & Symposium date has been set! The event will take place Saturday, April 18, 2020, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA from 8:45 am to 5:00 pm. Please go to Eventbrite to get your free ticket(s) –

2020 RRS Rocket and Space Exhibit & Symposium Flyer

Upcoming Events this Month:

  • CAL FIRE Fireworks Handbook Rocket Subcommittee February 21st in Monrovia.
  • MTA Launch event February 22nd.
  • RRS March Meeting 13th.

MTA launch, 2020-02-01

by Dave Nordling, RRS.ORG

The RRS met at the Mojave Test Area for our third launch event of the year in successive weeks. We were glad to host UCLA’s Project Ares for another static fire test of their liquid rocket.  The team has worked hard to improve their design from last year and had just presented their Critical Design Review (CDR) to peer review.

UCLA completes their on-campus CDR for the latest design of Project Ares
UCLA stands in their lab getting ready for the next hot-fire

The second project for the day was to be my hybrid rocket that I have built with Larry Hoffing.  The commercial H222 model from Contrails Rocketry is built into an old 2.5-inch rocket body that Larry had on hand.  I had some missing fluid connectors at the last attempt and it was my hope that this next attempt with the motor successfully loaded and a parachute recovery system in place, this would be the first hybrid launch from the RRS MTA in many years.

Larry Hoffing measures out a small powder load for the parachute deployment

Osvaldo had made a two-channel switchbox using an extension cord for controlling the nitrous oxide fill and drain solenoid valves.  The unit worked very well in system checks and we were to use our existing firing box for ignition.

Osvaldo cycles the solenoids using our new fluid flow control box

After a successful leak check of the manifold under pressure, we had a serious mishap with the nitrous bottle during a solenoid valve test resulting in loss of our stored oxidizer propellant. We surveyed the situation with our pyro-op and realized our error. With some minor repairs to the manifold, replacing a gauge and recharging the nitrous bottle, the fluid system will be restored.

Dave Crisalli, our pyro-op in charge at the RRS, talks with UCLA as they are setting up

Larry and I proceeded to complete the parachute recovery system to verify all systems are present and functioning.  I chose a MissileWorks RRC2+ dual-deployment system for parachute recovery using only the drogue chute circuit and all settings in default mode.  We also had an old Jolly Logic altimeter chip as a backup for the system.  All electronics passed inspection and we began a packaging check after securing the vent line stub.  At the end of checks, we felt the payload space was too tight and with our launch attempt already scrubbed we sought to make some improvements to the recovery system.

Parachute deployment for the hybrid rocket
Laying out the parachute with a Nomex cloth for heat protection from the powder charge

The RRS hybrid rocket launch will have to wait for the next launch event. We’ll make some improvements and hopefully have success soon.

The remainder of the day was spent overseeing UCLA’s next attempt with their ethanol/LOX liquid rocket. The team has had modest success with their prior hotfire in November but was looking to demonstrate further improvements.

Anneliese Peterson of UCLA installs the relief valves into the propellant feed system
Dave Crisalli discusses progress with UCLA’s design from within the safety of the George Garboden observation bunker

UCLA discovered and repaired several leaks in their pressurant connections. They also successfully purged their propellant tanks and had reached the decision point whether to proceed with LOX loading.

Based on a thorough discussion by the team and with our pyro-op in charge, UCLA opted not to proceed with hot-fire preparations and will make further corrections to their rocket systems before returning to the RRS MTA in the coming weeks.

UCLA showed great teamwork and maturity in their decision on how to best proceed. A future hot-fire date hasn’t been set yet, but the RRS is ready to support. 

It wasn’t a great day for hot-firing but many felt something important was learned that day at the RRS MTA. We will likely be back again sometime this month.  Wolfram Blume may be ready to conduct his first system test flight by then and Larry and I certainly will be ready to try again with our hybrid.  UCLA will also likely return this month.  The next launch event with LAPD CSP will be coming in March. 

In all cases, groups wanting to use the RRS MTA must contact the RRS president and submit a standard record form. We require a minimum of three weeks notice to consider all requests.

Our next meeting will be 2/14/2020 as the second Friday falls on Valentine’s Day this year.  We will surely discuss the MTA events since our last meeting including this one.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made this a great day.