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

MTA event, 2017-05-27

The RRS was glad to support UCLA in a series of cold flow tests of their liquid rocket system at the Mojave Test Area (MTA), Saturday, May 27, 2017. The flow tests provided useful data as the UCLA liquid rocket group proceeds with their build for the upcoming FAR-MARS competition put on by the Mars Society.

Mars Society – liquid rocket competition at FAR

UCLA conducted three tests in the series to gather pressure data in the blowdown tests for what will be their gasoline and nitrous oxide liquid rocket.

Richard Garcia, Osvaldo Tarditti and I supported the event with new member, Angel Perales.

Richard had spotted an alpha embedded in the earth just north of the MTA and slightly east of the alpha launch rails. It was an odd place to find one of the alphas and from the wooden nose cone it would seem that it was one launched from last year. Leakage around the nozzle and one of the nozzle bolts being missing probably contributed to the rogue trajectory.

Angel Perales stands next to the alpha found in the the north

rogue alpha found in the north

alpha with wooden nosecone from last year

UCLA seemed to get useful data and the results indicated the performance was close to predictions. Several parts including the thrust chamber are still under construction, but the valves, propellant tanks and venting systems were all tested. UCLA should be ready for a hot-fire test next week at next launch event, Saturday, June 3rd at the MTA.

UCLA sets up their liquid rocket breadboard for flow testing

UCLA makes final checks, prepares for flow test, 05-27-2017

UCLA conducting remote testing of their liquid system, 05-27-2017

Between tests, Osvaldo and I took a walk downrange in the more southern areas on the BLM land looking for more of the alphas and betas we’ve launched but haven’t yet recovered. It is not yet known where the betas have been coming down, but we think the distance may be greater than previously thought. I found two more alphas much further downrange than expected (~3100 feet).

Alphas found far downrange

Google Earth has a ground distance measurement tool I used based on my relative recollection of the spot we found those two alphas. My cell phone doesn’t have a strong enough signal to get a specific location marker.

With the hot temperatures, Osvaldo and I only had the strength to dig up one of those found which was an alpha (#10) from the GALA event in March. The aluminum nose cone was very much intact despite the ballistic re-entry into the earth.

GALA alpha #10 recovered, 05-27-2017

recovered alpha with aluminum nose cone, scratched but straight

Recovered alpha from the GALA event

The tight clearances and good craftsmanship in this new batch of alphas was very evident in the lack of leakage seen around the nozzle and the considerable downrange distance the alpha traveled.

Next launch event will be June 3rd. It is planned to have UCLA hot fire their liquid rocket, but this will depend on key parts being ready in time. Dr. Mitchell Spearrin of UCLA will have his scheduled launch event with us for the undergraduate laboratory class (MAE 157A) with ten F-motor model rockets, two alphas and two betas. It’s my hope that UCLA will have time to mount some instrumentation in the alphas and betas. It should be a really big event.

If there are any questions or corrections to be made, please contact me:
secretary@rrs.org

For other groups interested in working with the RRS at the MTA, please also contact our president:
president@rrs.org

MTA launch event, 2017-04-29

The RRS was happy to host UCLA at a launch event at the Mojave Test Area (MTA) on Saturday, April 29th.

UCLA Rocket Project working at the MTA

UCLA conducted a set of static fire tests and a launch. The purpose of the testing was to prove key parts of their larger IREC rocket including their wireless ignition system to be used at the IREC competition at the Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico.

Spaceport America Cup

UCLA Rocket Project, system checks

UCLA igniter tests

UCLA loads their rocket on the RRS rail

UCLA poses before their demo rocket

UCLA’s demo rocket takes off from the RRS rail

The rocket flight was partially successful and the recovery system worked well enough.

Some tests were successful, others not so much. A lot was learned at the MTA and the RRS was grateful to assist UCLA.

We are also thankful to Osvaldo and Richard for the photos and to our pyro-op, Jim Gross, for supporting the event.

Jim Gross oversees a test setup for UCLA

For other universities looking to use the MTA, please contact the RRS.
president@rrs.org

If there are any updates or corrections. Please let myself or Richard Garcia know.
secretary@rrs.org
research@rrs.org

Please note the next RRS monthly meeting is in Gardena on Friday, May 12th.