The California State Fire Marshal’s (CSFM) office held a sub-committee meeting to discuss potential changes to the definitions in the state laws concerning amateur rocketry. This meeting on Friday, 2/21/2020, at the CSFM offices in Monrovia was the second of two meetings held between CSFM and amateur rocketry representatives to informally discuss and review ideas for improvements. The laws had several ambiguities and areas for improvement which would better reflect the needs of our growing amateur rocketry community and provide for clarity and safety at all points.
The RRS was glad to host Ramiro Rodriguez, the state fire marshal of the local Hollywood office last year both at our February 2019 meeting and later as a speaker at the 2019 RRS symposium in April. The RRS and representatives from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) and the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) had met several times over the last calendar year leading to a consensus opinion on a few areas that would be presented to CSFM for consideration. Many of the ideas were with regards to fees, transportation issues and the different licensing classes of pyrotechnic operators for rocketry.
The RRS, FAR and ROC were glad to have the opportunity to speak frankly and give the state reasonable ideas that would preserve the freedoms in our hobby while keeping only responsible measures for assuring public safety as is required by CSFM.
CSFM will report their findings back to the home office in Sacramento and begin to discuss the next steps to amend the legislation governing amateur rocketry. We hope to hear more in the coming months as several of our ideas were accepted.
by Andrew Cortopassi, Secretary, Reaction Research Society
The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our February monthly meeting on February 14, 2020, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, California. It was an intimate meeting, primarily comprised of the executive council. Attendance numbers were low likely do to the large number of romantic RRS members, the 31st Annual Western Winter Blast Pyrotechnics Show in Lake Havasu City, or other adventures over the long weekend.
Those that were present enjoyed an informal meeting discussing a number of topics. We primarily focused on the previous three MTA launch events since the last meeting; each of which are highlighted with RRS website articles. We also discussed the upcoming CSFM meeting and the RRS symposium.
The RRS met at the Mojave Test Area for our third launch event of the year in successive weeks. We were glad to host UCLA’s Project Ares for another static fire test of their liquid rocket. The team has worked hard to improve their design from last year and had just presented their Critical Design Review (CDR) to peer review.
The second project for the day was to be my hybrid rocket that I have built with Larry Hoffing. The commercial H222 model from Contrails Rocketry is built into an old 2.5-inch rocket body that Larry had on hand. I had some missing fluid connectors at the last attempt and it was my hope that this next attempt with the motor successfully loaded and a parachute recovery system in place, this would be the first hybrid launch from the RRS MTA in many years.
Osvaldo had made a two-channel switchbox using an extension cord for controlling the nitrous oxide fill and drain solenoid valves. The unit worked very well in system checks and we were to use our existing firing box for ignition.
After a successful leak check of the manifold under pressure, we had a serious mishap with the nitrous bottle during a solenoid valve test resulting in loss of our stored oxidizer propellant. We surveyed the situation with our pyro-op and realized our error. With some minor repairs to the manifold, replacing a gauge and recharging the nitrous bottle, the fluid system will be restored.
Larry and I proceeded to complete the parachute recovery system to verify all systems are present and functioning. I chose a MissileWorks RRC2+ dual-deployment system for parachute recovery using only the drogue chute circuit and all settings in default mode. We also had an old Jolly Logic altimeter chip as a backup for the system. All electronics passed inspection and we began a packaging check after securing the vent line stub. At the end of checks, we felt the payload space was too tight and with our launch attempt already scrubbed we sought to make some improvements to the recovery system.
The RRS hybrid rocket launch will have to wait for the next launch event. We’ll make some improvements and hopefully have success soon.
The remainder of the day was spent overseeing UCLA’s next attempt with their ethanol/LOX liquid rocket. The team has had modest success with their prior hotfire in November but was looking to demonstrate further improvements.
UCLA discovered and repaired several leaks in their pressurant connections. They also successfully purged their propellant tanks and had reached the decision point whether to proceed with LOX loading.
Based on a thorough discussion by the team and with our pyro-op in charge, UCLA opted not to proceed with hot-fire preparations and will make further corrections to their rocket systems before returning to the RRS MTA in the coming weeks.
UCLA showed great teamwork and maturity in their decision on how to best proceed. A future hot-fire date hasn’t been set yet, but the RRS is ready to support.
It wasn’t a great day for hot-firing but many felt something important was learned that day at the RRS MTA. We will likely be back again sometime this month. Wolfram Blume may be ready to conduct his first system test flight by then and Larry and I certainly will be ready to try again with our hybrid. UCLA will also likely return this month. The next launch event with LAPD CSP will be coming in March.
In all cases, groups wanting to use the RRS MTA must contact the RRS president and submit a standard record form. We require a minimum of three weeks notice to consider all requests.
Our next meeting will be 2/14/2020 as the second Friday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. We will surely discuss the MTA events since our last meeting including this one.
Thanks to everyone who came out and made this a great day.