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.

MTA launch event, 2017-03-25

The RRS was pleased to host a launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) for the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) of L.A. USD on Saturday, March 25, 2017. The event had an excellent turnout.

GALA at the MTA, panorama

GALA students on the MTA observation deck

Longtime member Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for the event and I was able to serve as his assistant in conducting the launch of twelve alphas and a beta rocket.

Dave Crisalli

Osvaldo and Dave

If anyone else has photos of the event that they’d like to share, please email me:
secretary@rrs.org

Before we got started, we had a safety briefing showing how launch will take place and what to do before, during and after firing. To give an appreciation for the propellants commonly used in amateur rocketry, at a safe distance, we burned a sample of the micrograin.

John Mariano addresses the group

sample micrograin propellant burning

And a composite grain that Larry made for the demonstration

composite grain, before and after

AP composite grain, sample burn

We had 12 alphas and 1 beta for launch. GALA did a great job in painting their rockets. The bright colors not only distinguished one from the other, but they also made finding them downrange by their tailfins in the desert much easier to do. GALA also was wise to number their rockets. We took good notes on the flight times of each (35-38 seconds which is typical). With the wind noise, it wasn’t always possible to hear the faint thump. GALA did well in keeping quiet after launch to hear the thump and figure the direction where it was heard.

GALA rockets ready for launch

alpha launch rails facing out to the gate

GALA ready for launch

alpha launch 03-25-2017

Osvaldo equipped the last of the 12 alphas (all the way to the right in the photo below) with another fin-mounted keychain camera similar to what was done at the November 2016 launch event. Alas, it was not to be, the camera was destroyed and no footage was captured.

12 alphas laying in the rack

The beta was without payload except for the wooden adapter and a plastic Easter egg half as a nose cone. A buzzer and a strobe device was mounted to the beta fins in hopes to be better able to locate the vehicle in the search. Unfortunately, the beta, too was lost. No sound of impact was heard.

alphas and a beta (upside down)

Loading the beta into the rack

RRS beta launch 2017-03-25

Dr. Mitchell Spearrin of UCLA came by the event to tour the MTA as the RRS looks forward to working UCLA on their upcoming projects. Dr. Spearrin brought an Estes Ascender model rocket of his own to test at the MTA with a commercial F-motor. At the end of the GALA rockets, the model rocket was launched. I didn’t get any photos. I believe the winds carried the light rocket pretty far east of the MTA site. I understand that the rocket wasn’t able to be recovered.

Estes Ascender

Several of the alpha rockets launched by GALA were able to be recovered through hard work and sweat. I think of the 12 launches, 7 were recovered? An excellent job by the GALA team in finding and recovering a lot of the hardware.

GALA recovers an alpha

GALA alpha extracted

The RRS wants to thank GALA for their participation and hope they enjoyed the day as we did! We hope to have GALA come back for another event. Also, many thanks to Don Purpurra for contributing his photos of the event. The shots of the alphas and betas he took were incredible!
GALA Academy

If any other schools or groups are interested in participating in one of our build events, please contact our events coordinator, Larry Hoffing:
events@rrs.org

blockhouse view with the launch button gear

Our next RRS meeting will be Friday, April 14, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. This will be the last meeting before the RRS symposium which will be held Saturday, April 22nd at the same meeting location in Gardena. We encourage all of our participants to come by the Friday, April 14th meeting in advance of the symposium.

There will be speakers and an exhibition hall with universities and groups from government and private companies in attendance.

the latest RRS symposium flyer

Our latest flyer is linked here for download. Please share and post!
rrs symposium flyer 320

We also have tickets to the symposium being offered through an Eventbrite link given below. The event is free. We encourage everyone who’s interested in coming to sign up as this helps us get a better idea of how many people are coming.
Eventbrite – RRS symposium (free to register)

If I missed anything or if anything is misstated, please contact me:
secretary@rrs.org