MTA launch event, 2019-09-21

Larry Hoffing, Events Coordinator, RRS

Photo credits: Osvaldo Tarditti

The Reaction Research Society held another launch event with the LAPD CSP. This event was with the students of Boyle Heights. We had ten standard alphas launched into the blue Mojave sky that day including some model rockets made by Russell Hoffing and my grandson.

A lot of different groups came out for this launch event at the RRS MTA, 09-21-2019

We had students from the CSU Long Beach liquid rocket team come out to make some measurements for sub-system testing that they are planning at the RRS MTA this year.

CSU Long Beach inspects the vertical mounting structure at the RRS MTA
Model rockets in the George Dosa building undergoing preparation for launch
Students from Boyle Heights get their orientation instructions at the RRS MTA
RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing; RRS VP, Frank Miuccio and RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditi

Returning RRS member, John Krell, had worked up two prototype instrumentation packages for flights in the ninth and tenth RRS standard alphas on that day. Both rockets were recovered and the results were impressive.

John Krell arms his payload integrated into one of two RRS standard alphas, 09-21-2019
One of John’s prototypes survived the flight and is laid out on the table in the Dosa Bldg.
John Krell examines the recovered SD memory chips to determine the flight profile from the RRS alpha. Over 100 G’s of acceleration at take-off max’d out the sensor!

Materials have been acquired to repair the adjustable rail launcher that was damaged in early August this year. Osvaldo has been busy at work on the repairs. The RRS has several facility improvement projects in the works and we hope to bring this rail launcher back to service soon for larger rockets (4 to 6 inches).

John will hopefully have a full report and an overview of his design. Both Bill Behenna and Brian Johnson are also working on their own instrumentation designs for the RRS standard alpha. With this recent progress, this should help our others members take better data.

Still photo from RRS alpha #3 of 10 launched at the MTA on 09-21-2019.

We’ll discuss more of the results of this event in detail at the next RRS meeting on October 11, 2019. The RRS meets every 2nd Friday at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. Stop in and see how things went.


MTA launch event, 2019-07-13

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS.ORG


The RRS was glad to have another launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, July 13th. Our event this time was with Operation Progress in Watts. Thanks to our partnership with the LAPD CSP, we are able to fly nine alphas and a beta rocket at this event. It was to be a typically hot July day in the Mojave, but the winds were still through the morning picking up a little as the afternoon went on.

The RRS thrust stand structure flying Old Glory with the nine alphas (left) and the larger beta rocket (right) waiting for launch.

This was my first time as the event pyro-op. New member, Kent Schwitkis of Compton College and Waldo Stakes assisted me with the operations as we gave our young rocketeers a great view of their hard work.

Waldo Stakes in the old blockhouse as we prepare for firing of the next alpha rocket from the box rails.

As the LAPD CSP arrived at the RRS MTA, the society prepared to give a site tour to the students followed by our safety briefing.

The students of Operation Progress take some shelter and hydrate under the cover of the George Dosa building.

Our sample propellant burn demonstration gave the students a visual indication of what would be to come with the propellant driving their custom painted rockets into the blue sky. With the briefing and demonstrations complete, the students took shelter in the observation bunker.

RRS members, Kent Schwitkis and Dave Nordling loading an alpha for Operation Progress

One of the interesting features I noticed with this set of alphas was the use of modelling clay at the nozzle to hold back the micrograin propellant. This proved to be an equally effective method of holding back the propellant when the rocket is in firing position as the typical phenolic thin disks we commonly use.

The electric match lead wires emerging from a wad of modelling clay used to hold back the micrograin powdered propellant. The hole seen in this photo was smoothed over by a gentle brush of the finger. The method proved to be very effective.
A close-up view of the alpha nozzle with its plastic burst-disk and electric match resting on the interior side, the electric match wires protrude out the bottom (held back by carpenter’s tape just for convenience)
Kent holding the second to last alpha in the set. This one has a special feature added on the fin. A whistle.
An alpha streaks away almost perfectly straight in the nearly still winds.

One of the alpha rockets was outfitted with a whistle on one of its fin. Although imparting a spin during flight, the alphas tend to remain somewhat stable in flight. The results from this flight was somewhat disappointing as the whistle could not be clearly heard in either ascent or descent before impact.

Whistle attached to the fin of an RRS standard alpha to provide an audible trace of its flight

Our last rocket for Compton College was the larger RRS standard beta rocket. This two-inch diameter powerful vehicle made its impressive mark on the launch pad as it tore into the sky. After the launch, we took break for lunch. With the day growing hotter by the hour, our partners with the LAPD CSP and Operation Progress bid the MTA and the RRS farewell as they returned to the city.

Still capture of the beta flight from Frank Miuccio’s cell phone video footage from the bunker.

Following lunch, our second group at the event was a team from Compton College made up of Prof. Kent Schwitkis and Brian Johnson and their students. The Compton Comet was a standard alpha rocket outfitted with an instrumentation package and a parachute.

RRS welcomes Compton College at the MTA
The team discusses the assembly and operation of the payload in the Compton Comet.

New RRS member, Professor Kent Schwitkis got his first experience with loading the micrograin propellant in the Compton Comet at our loading area. This is a rite of passage for many of our new members. Although old and grossly inefficient, the zinc and sulfur powder propellant combination offers a simple and powerful combination to lift rockets in a yellow rushing plume.

After loading the propellant tube, the team begins their final assembly by mating the payload to the coupler.
The Compton Comet nearly complete with one more joint to connect.

The Compton Comet was loaded by the team into the alpha launch rails. All of us retreated to the concrete bunker for firing.

The team puts their hands on the rocket one last time before going to the pad.
Loading the Compton Comet into the RRS alpha launch rails. The payload arming flag flowing in the breeze.

The Compton Comet parachute somehow failed to deploy. The ballistic return of the rocket meant extraction by the time-honored method of shoveling. The Compton College team showed tremendous fortitude in the scorching 110 degree weather. The fruits of their labor was the return of the instrumented payload including the data chip inside.

Recovery of the Compton Comet by shovel.

Initial results showed that data was taken throughout the flight. The results are being reviewed by Compton College to be reported later to the society.

This was a very successful launch day at the RRS MTA and the society was glad to support the Operation Progress and Compton College student teams at our Mojave Test Area. For more information on similar rocket building programs with the RRS, contact our events coordinator, Larry Hoffing.

events@rrs.org

For all inquiries about using the RRS MTA, contact the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti

president@rrs.org


MTA launch event, 2019-07-10

by Larry Hoffing, RRS Events Coordinator


The RRS was glad to host an event at the Mojave Test Area for the UCLA Rocketry Club. This group of two dozen students launched a series of G-sized model rockets for their rocket building event on July 10, 2019.

Group photo under the RRS sign to the MTA

Each of the rockets had an egg as its payload. All but one was recovered intact. Each rocket had a custom data logging package including a barometer as an altimeter and an accelerometer. Average altitude was 2,480 feet with a group average peak acceleration of 14 G’s and thrust of 25 lbf.

Loading the rocket on the slotted rail launcher
Rocket on the rail and ready to go
Successful recovery; five of the six teams got their eggs back intact

One concern some of our members had from last week was if any of the structures at the MTA suffered any damage from the recent pair of earthquakes at Ridgecrest only a little more than 30 miles away across the dry lake desert floor. The RRS is happy to report that the damage seems minimal in that both the old block house is still standing and the George Dosa Building doesn’t look any worse for wear.

The old MTA blockhouse after the 7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake of July 5, 2019
The back door of the George Dosa building.
The students of the UCLA Rockets Club, 2019-07-10
Our events coordinator, Larry Hoffing, proudly shows his passion for rockets and the RRS

The RRS was glad to support this student event with UCLA. There will be a second, similar rocket building program later this month. For questions about future events, contact Larry Hoffing

events@rrs.org