MTA launch event, 2017-11-18

The RRS held a launch event with the Imperial Courts class on November 18, 2017 at our private Mojave Test Area (MTA). This launch event was the latest in a series of events we’ve had through the support of the LAPD CSP program. The event had 13 alpha rockets including 3 of these having smoke tracers in the payload section and the last one with a pair of keychain cameras on the tail. The USC Impact News crew was also in attendance to document this last event in the series with the Imperial Courts class.

Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for this event. I was glad to assist on the loading and launching operations.

smoke tracer lead wires sticking out from the payload tube

One of the keychain cameras was only a dummy to balance the rocket. The actual camera was first thought to have been destroyed on launch only to be found a few inches into the soil when the rocket was recovered by shovel. We hope to show the footage if the data on the chip was also intact.

last alpha with the two cameras on the fins, one dummy, one actual

smashed keychain camera with XD memory chip still in place

Osvaldo tried a new method of loading of the micrograin propellant in preparing the alphas for this event. His method involved weighing out the whole propellant load and pouring it all at once in a large funnel being careful not to trap air pockets. Knocking on the side of the metal tubes with a wooden hammer is done to encourage settling then slowly lowering a wooden piston on a string into the tube to get a better and more consistent packing density in the tubes.

big funnel with wooden piston on a string; new alpha loading method

The weight of the loaded alphas at the MTA before launch did show a small improvement by being slightly heavier from more propellant packed in the same tubes. The main advantage was the loading procedure was less messy than the prior method of bouncing the bottom of the tube on a wood block which often results in air pockets escaping with packets of micrograin burping back up the tube.

Osvaldo gives instructions on the weighing of the alphas before flight

The alphas from Imperial Courts had bright color schemes from each of the individual teams. Having each of the rockets labelled with the paper tags was very helpful in keeping track. We should continue this practice for future events.

alphas from the Imperial Courts class

I have been slowly working on a small horizontal thrust stand to incorporate the load cell transmitter donated to the RRS by Interface Inc.
Interface Inc. – Precision Load Cells

An existing concrete pad with a three anchor-bolt pattern will be used and I have the first piece which is a steel footing plate to mate up with the hole pattern. Many thanks to Matt Moffitt of CNC Specialty Machining of Huntington Beach, CA, for his craftsmanship.

anchor plate for an RRS horizontal thrust stand

The students of Chaminade High School in Chatsworth also hot-fired their 4-inch solid rocket motors of their own making. After resolving some problems with the casing, the results of the firing were good.

4-inch solid motors from Chaminade High School

We also hosted UCLA as they hot-fired their liquid rocket. They attached their propellant tanks to one of our thrust frames for a full system demonstration.

UCLA NO2 and kerosene liquid rocket being mounted for firing

UCLA makes final preparations for firing

After a lot of preparations and waiting until after sunset, UCLA’s hot-fire did not disappoint those of us who stayed into the cool hours of dusk. Their nitrous-oxide and kerosene liquid rocket fired for full duration and to what looked like great results.

UCLA fires for full duration.

RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, with his brick as a camera tripod

We thank all of the parents and the LAPD officers who made the event a success. Also, many thanks to Dave Crisalli and the RRS membership who helped with the hundreds of things that needed to be done. We look forward to the next launch event at the MTA early next year.

MTA launch event, 2017-07-22

The RRS hosted a launch event on Saturday, July 22, 2017, with the students of Jordan Downs, sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Community Safety Program (CSP) at our Mojave Test Area (MTA). This launch event was the final part of the educational program put on by the RRS. The event was very successful as we fired 10 student alpha rockets and one more alpha from LAPD.

RRS sign at the MTA entrance

It was a typically hot day (105 F / 41 C) for late July at our private test site the Mojave Desert, but everyone was well prepared. Some even brought umbrellas which was a great idea to stay out of the sun’s rays. The misting fan we bought from Home Depot seemed to work well in the observation bunker. Home Depot was also very kind to donate water misting bottles for this event which helped tremendously in keeping people cool. RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, was also very well prepared for the event as he saved me with a cold water bottle just after launch. Looking after each other is what we do.

RRS VP Frank Miuccio talks with students from Jordan Downs

Larry addresses the Jordan Downs students at the MTA

Our pyro-op in charge was Dave Crisalli and he gave our safety briefing before we got started. The students were well prepared and seemed to get a lot from it. New RRS member, Alistair Martin was nice enough to film some of the briefing.

Alistair films the burn demonstration

We also gave a propellant burn demonstration after the safety briefing to give everyone an appreciation for the power of the chemicals commonly used in amateur and professional rocketry. I have a still of the sample composite grain below. I took a video of the composite burn and will have it posted on our YouTube channel very soon.

sample composite grain sitting in the cage

Larry and Osvaldo had already loaded the rockets the night before so we could get the event started as quickly as possible. The rockets were safely stored in our old blockhouse ready to go.

Each of the students had painted their rocket with a unique pattern and color scheme to better help identify them later. The photo below is from just after the build event.

Jordan Downs alpha rockets painted and ready

Dave allowed me to assist on the pyro-op duties including rail loading and connecting for firing. As promised, we worked quickly to call out each one as they were loaded in the rails. Dave and I worked very efficiently to get each one off swiftly and safely.

The LAPD rocket was the 11th one in the series. It had a few special features including a smoke tracer in the payload section and a tail-fin mounted camera.

LAPD’s alpha rocket

LAPD payload with red smoke tracker inside

LAPD’s alpha rocket, tail fin camera

The LAPD rocket was able to be recovered shortly after launch thanks to the smoke tracker. The nose cone wasn’t able to be recovered but the camera on the tail fin remained in tact. We have had good luck with one of these keychain cameras in the past. Although the camera imparts a spin on the rocket, the flight is very stable. Once the footage is downloaded, and depending on the quality, the RRS will post it on our YouTube channel. It should be a lot of fun to see (fingers crossed).

YouTube – RRS channel

The specific brand of smoke tracker used was “Enola Gaye”. Given the success of the flight, the RRS should certainly use more of this product in the future. There has been some discussion to increase the number of holes in the payload section to allow more of the smoke product to escape throughout the flight.

Dave Crisalli with the recovered LAPD rocket

Due to the summer heat, the students of Jordan Downs didn’t go downrange to search for their rockets after the launching was over. However, Frank was able to locate and recover (dig up) one from the event.

Frank in the Dosa Bldg. just before going out to search for rockets

The RRS thanks LAPD officers Acuna, Plascencia and Terrazas

The RRS is grateful to all of the parents and adults who supported the event with us. Also, the RRS is grateful to LAPD officers, Acuna, Plascencia and Terrazas, for their help in making this event a big success.

Osvaldo receives Cert of Recognition

University of Southern California (USC) and RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti, were glad to receive a certificate of recognition from L.A. City Councilman, Joe Buscaino of the 15th district for putting on this event with the students of Jordan Downs in Watts. It is with gratitude that the RRS accepts the certificate and we hope to work again with the students of Jordan Downs and other groups in the city.

As for my own rocket which would have been the 12th alpha launched, an electrical problem with the timer forced me to pass on launch. Although each part of the circuit seemed to work individually when I tested them the night before, the fully integrated system failed the demonstration at the site. Working with Richard and with some more time, I can resolve the issue, improve the design a little, and fly the parachute system in the alpha at the next launch event.

Dave’s alpha parachute deployment system, still in work

UCLA was also at the MTA to continue their work on their liquid rocket project. UCLA proceeded after the Jordan Downs launch, but had an electrical problem which prevented their scheduled cold flow testing. UCLA hopes to reset their efforts and be back at the MTA for more testing in late August.

Chris, Richard and I discussed making some rocket candy (sugar/KNO3) at the MTA loading area, but it seemed that there wasn’t enough time to get things started. With most of the resources already on hand, we’ll wait for the next event for Chris to cook a small batch of this classic amateur rocketry compound for demonstration purposes.

If any one has any pictures or video of the event that they’d like to share on the RRS website. Please send them to me at secretary@rrs.org
Or comment to this posting below.

For more information on the RRS educational programs, please contact us at:
events@rrs.org

Also, if I have missed or misstated anything, please let me know. Our next monthly meeting will be August 11th at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA.
secretary@rrs.org

MTA launch event, 2017-06-03

The RRS was glad to host another launch event at the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on June 3, 2017. With 71 people in attendance, this was one of the largest events we’ve had in recent memory at the MTA.

morning arrival of the UCLA caravan, 06-03-2017

Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for this launch event that had a set of 10 model rocket launches for the MAE 157A class, 3 RRS alphas, 2 RRS betas, and another cold flow test series by the UCLA liquid rocket team in preparation for the FAR-MARS competition. Dave Crisalli was kind enough to allow me (Dave Nordling) to assist on the micrograin launches to gain experience as a pyro-op.

David Crisalli (RRS) and Dr. Mitchell Spearrin (UCLA)

It was also new member Bill Janczewsky’s first time at an RRS MTA launch event. We thank Bill for taking pictures of the launches. If anyone else has photos to share from the event, let me know.

Before we got started, we held our safety briefing with everyone in attendance. The briefing also introduced everyone to the purpose of each of the buildings and structures, how the testing will be conducted and outlined the unique and common hazards at the MTA.

Safety briefing at the RRS MTA, 06-03-2017

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin of UCLA brought his MAE 157A undergraduate class for the final weeks of the rocket build and trajectory lab. Ten custom rockets were built using F-motors and flying an altimeter chip with a hard-boiled egg on each. Surprisingly, more than half recovered their eggs with the shells in tact. Data was taken on each flight with good consistency, one trajectory I viewed from a smartphone application showed a maximum altitude of 2000 feet. All vehicles were recovered. I hope UCLA will send the RRS a compilation of their results to post here soon.

UCLA payload processing for MAE 157A

F-motors for the UCLA MAE 157A class

MAE 157A class, Spring Quarter 2017

the 10 rockets, up close

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin discusses the results of the MAE 157A launches

Preparation for the micrograin launches took some time. Osvaldo and I did the mixing and loading. Larry completed the assemblies with the burst disk and nozzles.

RRS micrograin mixing apparatus

micrograin propellant mixture, zinc and sulfur powder

RRS beta tube, filled

Larry loads the nozzle and finishes the assembly

During the preparations for the micro-grain rockets (RRS alphas and betas), We managed to get the LNG tanks unloaded from the truck. Many thanks for the extra help given by the students of UCLA. The LNG tanks will be very useful additions to the liquid rocket projects at the RRS. With luck, we’ll acquire an oxygen dewar to provide the oxidizer supply to our small engine development projects.

two LNG tanks delivered to the MTA site

Richard Garcia also managed to find an old beta that Osvaldo launched last year with a parachute recovery system. We are thankful to the folks at FAR for finding and holding on to the vehicle as they must have found it downrange for us.

Osvaldo’s red beta from last year, recovered

Red Beta payload

The recovered beta also had a graphite throat insert which held up very well.

Recovered red beta, nozzle with graphite insert

Mars City Design held their “Evening on Mars” gala fundraiser on May 25th.
The RRS donated an alpha rocket to the raffle held at the event.
Mars City Design.com

The winners were part of a film crew from Finland called “Fun Academy” which is part of the larger organization, “SpaceNation.org”.
Fun Academy
Space Nation

The RRS was glad to support Space Nation in their production at the MTA launch event. We hope the crew can share some of their best still images and video from the launch. The crew had a drone camera which should have captured an excellent perspective.

Mazdak Nassir (left) and Kasimir Lehto (right) of Space Nation

The UCLA liquid rocket team conducted another series of cold flow tests. The testing captured the pressure, temperature and flow rate profiles which met predictions. UCLA is working hard after their PDR was held this week in preparation for next year’s Mars Society liquid rocket competition at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry site.
Mars Society – liquid rocket competition at FAR

Rocket Project at UCLA, logo

UCLA cold flow test, 06-03-2017

UCLA switching bottles, cold flow testing

The last event was the micrograin rocket launches. UCLA had two RRS standard alphas and two standard betas for demonstration of the larger and more powerful amateur rockets. The RRS launched a third alpha that day with a yellow body and fins. With all attendees safely undercover, the launch did not fail to impress!

Osvaldo holds the two alphas for UCLA

two betas for UCLA before loading

gathering everyone to the observation bunker for the micrograin launches

Larry doing road checks waiting to clear for launch

bunker briefing, be quiet after launch and listen

montage of a beta taking off

With all of the action, it made for a very late day. With the temperature exceeding 100 Fahrenheit that day, most people didn’t have the strength to hunt for the UCLA alphas or betas after launch. The sound of impact was very, very faint, but a couple hits were heard.

Before the day’s micrograin launches, the alpha rails were turned slightly north from due west before the launch as the alphas seem to be falling more and more to the south. Impact on one of the alphas seemed to be due west. The impact on the second beta was heard in the southwest. Winds were low to very light and pushing to the east so I would expect to find the vehicles closer to the launch site. With time, we hope to recover all of them and recover some of the parts.

In particular, the second beta was outfitted with an altimeter chip. The aluminum payload tube was vented with holes. Although the metal tube would shield the signal from the transmitter. the chip has memory storage that could be recovered if the rocket is found not too long from now.

altimeter chip inside of a custom payload shroud within the second UCLA beta

altimeter shell mounted on the beta coupler

UCLA’s 2nd beta with altimeter, vented payload tube, SpaceNation.org sticker attached

loading the RRS standard beta into the rails

It was a long and hot day for everyone. Most objectives were accomplished and we hope to support UCLA in further testing including the hot fire of their liquid rocket when they are ready.

Our next monthly meeting is next Friday, June 9th, at 7:30pm at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. We have been fortunate to have many new student members join us from UCLA and we hope they continue to be active with the RRS.

If there is anything that I missed or misstated, please let me know.
secretary@rrs.org