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

secretary@rrs.org

September 2017 meeting

The RRS held our monthly meeting on September 8, 2017. We got a late start to the meeting, but I did add a simple 9-inch clock to the room at the start. This will be a useful feature in future meetings.

After the treasury report, we discussed suppliers for making our rocket parts. It was decided that we stick to local suppliers as this has been our tradition and southern California has many great options.

The conversation turned to the upcoming alpha build event with LAPD CSP. This second event with a new batch of students from Imperial Courts will run on five Friday’s starting September 15th. The launch event will take place on Saturday, October 21st.

USC RPL will be helping at the first session of the next RRS build event. USC was not able to come to this month’s meeting to give us status on their upcoming projects.

The RRS usually does demonstrations during the event like the CO2 cartridge rocket on a string to demonstrate the principle of jet propulsion. We discussed other demonstrations such as the vinegar-baking soda rocket. Further, we discussed some of the things that could be done better such as to focus less on the history of rocketry and spend more time explaining fundamental concepts from physics and science. The RRS is continually improving our program to make better presentations.

vinegar and baking soda rocket

Frank had said that USC plans to fire several motors at the MTA in the coming months. The MTA should be available for the October 21st launch. UCLA will also be working on their liquid rocket this fall.

Osvaldo showed the launch footage from the camera mounted on LAPD’s alpha. The spin rate from the camera hanging off the fin was much faster making it tough to see much but in individual frames you can make out buildings below getting smaller. The bright sun from the clear skies unfortunately obscured any view as the rocket descended. Osvaldo is working on the film footage and we should have something compiled soon.

We need to start mounting the camera internally rather than hanging it externally on the fin as has been hastily done in the past. I have been working with Alastair on such a setup inside a payload tube. The “808” keychain cameras come from a range of suppliers with more and more features including high resolution video. I’m thinking of getting a few for myself. They seem to be very robust with a long running time with the XD memory card.

There have been several other payload ideas discussed for upcoming alphas. Osvaldo and I discussed improvements to my timer circuit to go with my parachute system.

During the first LAPD CSP event with the students of Jordan Downs, a few local news crews had filmed the event including KTLA 5 and Telemundo 34. Telemundo was kind enough to give us the segment they broadcast on July 14th. It was in Spanish with Spanish subtitles so I hope we can work on making an English-subtitled version and post it on our YouTube channel.

YouTube – RRS channel

Bill Janczewski was going to work on a new design for an RRS membership card. Although the RRS does not issue membership cards to our members as they had in the past, some of our members have indicated interest. Perhaps by special request, we can have a membership card available for a nominal cost (in addition to paying your annual dues). The proceeds would go to fund the society projects. Right now, this is a task in progress. For those that are interested, let me know.

I would like to start gathering articles for the upcoming 75th anniversary newsletter. I’ve already spoken to a few of our contributors. I’d like to have all submittals by December 15th.

The anniversary newsletter will be issued January 6, 2018, and will be available in print only. The price per copy is still under discussion, but all proceeds fund the society.

Bill Claybaugh donated his solid propellant testing rig and a thrust stand to the society. We are thankful for his donation. Our director of research, Richard Garcia, is going to work with this hardware to make use of it soon at the MTA.

Claybaugh solid propellant test rig including mandrel and thrust stand

Steve Majdali was kind enough to donate a quantity of silicone oil to the society. This material is useful as a mold release compound for the solid propellant grain casting process.

As a final entry, I was able to meet with Barbara Cipperly, the widow of one of the RRS founders, John Cipperly. John passed away December 31, 2013, at his home in La Crescenta. I am working with Barbara to get a brief biography for our “History” and “Founders” tab on the RRS website. I hope to have the final version posted soon. He had several newsletters saved over the decades and the RRS was glad to accept these from the Cipperly for the society archives.

donated newsletters and literature from Barbara Cipperly

The meeting adjourned late at 9:20pm. Our next meeting will be Friday, October 13, 2017.

Frank had said that we’ll start to talk about the upcoming 75th anniversary symposium in the next meeting. Also, we’re due for an update on the SuperDosa project. I’ll be posting next month’s agenda on the forum. I would recommend all of our members go to the website “rrs.org” regularly.

If there are any questions or corrections, let me know.
secretary@rrs.org

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.