75th anniversary for the RRS (1943-2018)

It was on January 6, 1943, in Glendale, California, that our founder, George James started an amateur rocketry group that would become the Reaction Research Society. It is with great pleasure that we officially announce our 75th anniversary on this day, January 6, 2018.

The RRS turns 75 today.

As much as the world has changed in that time, our commitment to our core principles of learning, careful experimentation and sharing knowledge have not. It is with great pride that we celebrate this milestone year that few organizations have rivaled and that we today, more than ever, will remain vital in our Los Angeles community. We are most thankful to all of our former, past and current members for making our society possible over three quarters of a century.

The RRS is pleased to announce that a 75th anniversary issue of the Astro-Jet newsletter will be available for orders starting today. This is the same newsletter that George James issued quarterly and we are proud to mark this occasion with the Astro-Jet that many have loved over the years. The 75th anniversary Astro-Jet newsletter will be in print only and will not be posted online. Although this will be single issue, it will contain articles from many of our current and past members and including our founder, George James.

To those wanting to buy a copy, please contact the RRS secretary and provide your mailing address. We will, of course, not share your information outside of the society. Copies will (hopefully) be sent out this month. You can also use our “Donate” button (connected to Paypal) on the RRS.ORG website to buy your copies. Just be sure to make a specific note of “Astro-Jet” and how many copies you’re buying.


This special issue will be available in print only for a copy price of $10. This is fairly close to the same price of the Astro-Jet adjusted for inflation back in 1946. The proceeds will go to fund the many activities of the RRS including our upcoming 75th anniversary symposium on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

The start of this new year is also a good time to remind our current membership or those desiring to restart their membership that annual dues are $40 for members and $20 for student members. You can also use the RRS.ORG website’s “Donate” button (connected to Paypal) to pay your RRS dues, but please make a note of your name and that you are paying your “annual dues”.

Our next monthly meeting will be on Friday, January 12, 2018, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. As always, we invite members current and past to join us. We also welcome newcomers who would like to learn more.

Discovery Cube – Orange County

A few months ago (5/29/17) while driving through Orange County down the I-5, something caught my eye in what looked like the parking lot of a mall. An RL-10B-2 upper stage rocket is on permanent display adjacent to the Discovery Cube of Orange County! This massive item from a Delta III rocket is an amazing piece of American rocketry history and was donated by the Boeing Company facility at Huntington Beach, CA.

From the photo above, it seems the museum has used the payload fairing to advertise the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

Second stage engine systems sign, outdoor RL-10 exhibit, Discovery Cube OC

The Discovery Cube is a group of museums open to the public (10am – 5pm) for children of all ages. They have three locations in Los Angeles, Newport Beach and Santa Ana (Orange County).

Discovery Cube Orange County

Discovery Cube, Orange County
2500 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, CA, 92705

The RL-10 series has one of the longest histories of rocket engines dating back to the 1960’s and is still in service over 50 years later. This trail-blazing design of a hydrogen-oxygen cryogenic upper stage uses an expander or topping type of engine cycle which is very efficient and useful for smaller upper stage engines, but very different from the more common gas-generator or staged combustion cycles used on first stage engines.

Expander or Topping Cycle engine cycle illustrated

This particular upper stage looks largely complete with propellant and pressurant tanks, valves, avionics boxes, steering rockets, payload fairing and of course the expander-cycle engine all mounted high above the street giving passersby a great view from below and afar. Also, the RL-10 has an extendable nozzle that is deployed after stage separation. The display has the long bell nozzle in the deployed position showing how it would look as it operates optimally in the thin upper atmosphere moving its payload to orbit.

The RL-10 is still being built by the Pratt & Whitney facility of West Palm Beach, FL (now under Aerojet-Rocketdyne).

Complete upper stage from the Delta III vehicle

A view of the RL-10 from below from behind the fence

The museum has also the Boeing Rocketry exhibit which is unfortunately still closed for renovation. From the photos on the museum webpage, they had an RS-68 engine on display which people could walk beneath to take a closer look. The RS-68 and RS-68A engines are still being made by Aerojet-Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, CA.

Once the rocketry exhibit is reopened, I plan to pay this museum a visit. I encourage our readers to do the same.

For questions, you can contact the Discovery Cube of Orange County
Discovery Cube Orange County


Update on RRS newsletter archiving

The large set of newsletters issues 60 through 100 that Frank gave me has been scanned and returned. They are about halfway through post-processing. Frank was then able to follow up with another large set of newsletters. This set covers his time as RRS president from 1989 through 1992. I am about two-thirds of the way done with that set. No progress yet on processing the cache of newsletters from Google Books.

Bill Claybaugh has generously donated his collection of 29 newsletters from the period between 1992 to 2001. Some have been archived already but many are new to being scanned including the one shown with a magnificent cover showing a night firing of a rocket on a static test stand. I’ll start scanning these after I finish scanning the last of Frank’s newsletters.