October 2019 meeting

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, Reaction Research Society


The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met for our monthly meeting on Friday, October 11, 2019. We had a full agenda with three presenters and a lot discuss with upcoming events. 

We had a few new people come to our meeting including Frank Chandler who works with the Cal Poly Pomona liquid rocket project.  Frank joined the RRS as a member and we hope to see him and his students at future meetings and launch events.

Frank Chandler and Frank Miuccio talk after the conclusion of the October 11, 2019 meeting

We were also happy to have several Compton College students from their newly formed STEM club attend our meeting.  The RRS is glad to support the efforts of university students in their ambitions to build liquid rockets and we’re happy to add Compton College to the growing list of organizations we support.

RRS members Jerry Fuller and John Krell listen to Wolfram Blume’s presentation at the October 11, 2019 meeting.

We called the meeting to order and after the reading of the treasury report, we started the first of our presentations.

Wolfram Blume explains the parts of his two-stage rocket to our audience at the October 2019 meeting of the RRS
Wolfram holds the commercial solid motor he’ll use to propel his ramjet engine up to sufficient speed to start

[1] The Gas Guzzler Ramjet Project

Wolfram Blume is a new member to the society and he has been working for over eight years on a unique kind of rocket project that has been very rare in the long years of our society and probably in amateur rocketry as a whole.  His two-stage rocket consists of a first-stage solid rocket booster using a commercial grade motor and a gasoline-fueled ramjet engine as a second stage.  Both stages have a parachute recovery system and an onboard fuel management system. 

Wolfram Blume holds his 3-D printed fuel manifold at the inlet of his ramjet engine
Wolfram pulls his recovery system from within the ramjet engine to show how it is stowed and deployed with a redundant firing system.

Wolfram’s presentation was very thorough as this project is very complex.  The RRS is still assessing the project in all of its aspects.  With Wolfram’s permission, we’ll share the full set of details in a separate report here on RRS.ORG.  The Gas Guzzler project still needs several more static tests conducted to prove key parts of the combustor.  Flight tests of a dummy, unfueled ramjet and the solid booster are also being discussed.  We hope to share more details as this exciting project evolves.

The inlet of the ramjet for the Gas Guzzler project.

The RRS is happy to consider propulsion projects of all kinds, but every project must be peer-reviewed by the RRS before it is accepted for any testing at the MTA.  Testing at the RRS MTA is by appointment only.  All persons and groups interested in testing at the RRS MTA must submit a standard record form and all details of their proposed project. Our standard record form is available for download on our RRS.ORG website.  These materials must be submitted to the RRS president and after careful review that a test can be scheduled.

president@rrs.org


[2] Bill Behenna, Avionics Payload for the RRS standard alpha rocket

With the many school events we’ve been having through the LAPD CSP, we have had many alpha rockets getting flown out of the MTA.  The payload tubes are typically empty which creates a great opportunity for others to build and fly payloads in these small but powerful rockets being launched many times throughout the year.

Bill Behenna has been actively working on making a customized instrumentation package that would fit within the small confines of the long alpha payload tube.  Barometric pressure measurements, accelerometer readings and air temperature would be recorded on a solid-state memory chip which have been shown to survive even the harsh sudden stop into the dry lake bed floor if the parachute recovery system fails.

Bill Behenna’s breadboard of his instrumentation payload is taking shape.

Bill talked about his testing with his breadboard model using Arduino modules and an UNO microprocessor.  These instrumentation packages can be challenging to make, but they can offer a lot of great information on the flight.  The quality of data collection devices are ever increasing and the size and price of these instruments are ever decreasing.  It is a great time to be in amateur rocketry.  Many commercially available rocket instrumentation packages exist and are used more and more frequently in model rocketry.  The particular challenge with the RRS standard alpha is its compact size and metallic construction.

John Krell and Bill Behenna discuss their instrumentation packages before the start of the meeting in October 2019

[3] Review of John Krell’s Flight Data

In parallel to Bill Behenna’s efforts, John Krell has been working on a slim instrumentation package that measures the three-axis acceleration, barometric pressure and air temperature readings.  He conducted several tests of his system which was able to record data and a speed sufficient to capture the rapid combustion of the alpha flight.

John was able to get his first prototype, actually two prototypes, ready to fly in alpha rockets #9 and #10 at the September 21 launch event.  More importantly, the rockets were located downrange and extracted intact for examination.  The data confirmed that the burnout velocity is in fact subsonic, the burn time is just short of 0.40 seconds and the altitude of both rockets is around 4000 feet. What is surprising is that the maximum acceleration from the alpha exceeds even the 100G limit of the sensor.

John Krell begins his presentation at the October 2019 meeting of the RRS about the flight data captures in two RRS alpha flights on 9/21/2019 at the MTA

John’s report was very thorough and with his permission, the RRS will publish the full details of his project in a separate article here on RRS.ORG.  The most important thing is that John is already building more units for more rocket flights that will take place at another launch event at the MTA.  With more data, the flight parameters of the RRS alpha can be even better resolved.


[4] RRS presents at the CATIE conference at Antelope Valley College

The RRS was asked by Dr. Khalil Dajani to present at the California Aerospace Technology Institute of Excellence (CATIE) at the Antelope Valley College (AVC) in Lancaster, California on September 18, 2019.  The conference was an event for government and commercial companies in the Antelope Valley to network and to forge beneficial partnerships in the aerospace industry.  

I had asked Drew Cortopassi to attend the conference on behalf of the RRS.  Drew was also able to attend the conference on behalf of the Aerospace Corporation as he works in the Propulsion Testing Lab in El Segundo.  The RRS introduced ourselves as an educational non-profit group with resources that can help government and commercial companies with modest testing facilities.  The RRS was also proud to share with the audience our long history in the pursuit of reaction propulsion and research.

Drew Cortopassi summarizes his experiences at the CATIE conference at AVC on behalf of the RRS.

[5] RRS social media

Alastair Martin is one of our two social media advisors to the RRS.  As part of our regular monthly agenda, he briefed our audience on our Instagram and Facebook sites that we maintain along with the main website.  Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC, is producing the Rocket Talk Radio podcast which includes RRS members and discusses current and historical topics related to rocketry.

RRS event coordinator, Larry Hoffing, talks with Alastair Martin, social media advisor to the RRS, after the October 2019 meeting

[6] RRS launch events at the MTA

The RRS had a successful launch event with Boyle Heights on September 21 as detailed in a prior firing report.  The RRS is glad to announce that another launch event will occur at the MTA before the year’s end.

Frank Miuccio, our society vice president and our point of contact with the LAPD CSP, announced the next educational event will begin on October 25, 2019.  This 5-week course will be with 99th Street Elementary School in Watts.  The final step is the launch event at the RRS MTA on December 7, 2019.  The exact number of rockets is not known yet, but we are expecting 10 alphas.


[7] The RRS history project

The RRS history project is an on-going task to archive and collect all historical materials.  George Garboden has graciously donated a large number of documents to the society for storage, archival and scanning.  The RRS is glad to accept these materials to help bring more of our history to more of our members.  More than just the careful preservation of the reports and papers, is the larger task of sorting and scanning them.  We hope to enlist more of our membership to devote the time and care needed for the long-term success of this project.


[8] Update from the 2020 Constitutional Committee

The RRS Constitution is in the process of being revised to better reflect how the society functions today and making important clarifications of parts that were somewhat ambiguous.   This three-person committee was appointed by the executive council in February this year and consists of one executive council member, Frank Miuccio, and two of our administrative members in the society. 

Drew Sherman, Frank Miuccio, Mike Albert and Mohammed Daya listen as John Krell makes his presentation to the RRS on October 11, 2019.

The painstaking task of going through every page and every paragraph of the Constitution is almost half finished.  After a complete review of the whole document, the committee will present it’s findings and a recommended draft to the administrative membership for their questions and comments.  This was hoped to be completed by November 2019 with the goal of attempting ratification by the new year, 2020.

The committee has decided to continue the use of an RRS policy listing which would contain the more specific or quantitative aspects of the society such as the annual dues amounts.  Simpler and less categorical changes could be amended more easily by the council or by the administrative membership.  The Constitution itself requires a higher level of approval for any changes which includes a two-thirds majority vote by the administrative membership.  There will be more on this subject when the committee completes it’s initial task hopefully by next month’s meeting in November 2019.


[9]  The 2020 symposium

The RRS agreed to hold the next symposium in 2020 continuing the annual tradition.  Our membership commitment to making this next symposium an even larger and greater success is strong.  Frank is working on confirming the next symposium date which may be March 28, 2020, if the Ken Nakaoka Community Center can confirm.  The society will try to hold this event a little earlier in the year to hopefully avoid the onset of the warmer temperatures.  The community center does not have air-conditioning and we do expect a larger crowd as this has been the trend since we restarted symposium events in 2017.


[10] The treasurer’s report on membership

Chris Lujan, the RRS treasurer was not able to provide his report on our membership roster and status.  We hope to bring this report to the next meeting where we will show how well the society is doing in keeping current with receiving annual dues payments and show how much our membership roster has grown in these last few years.


[11] Reminder for annual nominations for RRS Executive Council at the November meeting

Per our Constitution, the RRS will be taking nominations for each of the four executive council positions at the RRS.  Positions are only open to administrative members of the RRS, and we have been expanding our ranks with former administrative members returning to active status and newer members being inducted in the last two years.  Nominations can be made at the next meeting of the RRS, November 8, 2019.

The 2019 RRS Executive Council: Dave Nordling, Osvaldo Tarditti, Frank Miuccio and Chris Lujan

With nominations received, the RRS will appoint an election chairman, to conduct the voting process with the results announced at the December 13, 2019 meeting.  All elected executive council members will begin their new terms at the start of the new calendar year, January 1, 2020.


[IN CLOSING}

This October 2019 meeting was one of the best we’ve had since my time with the RRS.  A lot of great projects are in the making and we’re getting more and more data to share with the society.  The society is growing and we’re glad that our enthusiasm is spreading.

The next meeting will be November 8, 2019, on the second Friday of each month as usual at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena.  If there are any questions about this October meeting, please contact the RRS secretary.  Hope to see everyone back again in November..

secretary@rrs.org


September 2019 meeting

by Dave Nordling, Secretary, RRS.ORG


The Reaction Research Society (RRS) met on Friday, September 13, 2019. We had several new people come out to visit including the CSU Long Beach liquid rocket team. They were coming to learn more about the society and our resources at the Mojave Test Area (MTA).

The RRS had a special occasion to celebrate at the meeting which we did with pizza. The RRS now has three new licensed pyro-ops, Osvaldo Tarditti, Larry Hoffing and Dave Nordling. This will help us a lot in holding more events at the MTA.

Abel, Wally, Tustin and Hunter from the CSULB Beach Launch Team, enjoyed our celebration and stayed for the meeting.

Since we had so many new people coming to the meeting, we decided to make introductions and share some of the stories and latest projects before getting to the meeting agenda topics.

Wolfram Blume, new member to the RRS, discussed his plans to static fire a gasoline fueled subsonic ramjet

New RRS member, Wolfram Blume, came to the meeting tonight to discuss his plans to build, test and ultimately fly a gasoline fuel ram-jet called the Gas Guzzler project. He’s been working on this project since 2011 and he presented the RRS president with his test request to conduct a static fire test along with many details of his initial designs. The RRS has not tested a ramjet in many years and this will be a very interesting project as it develops.

Waldo Stakes, RRS member, explains his latest progress with the steam rocket he’s been working.

Waldo Stakes came to the meeting to share with the society his latest progress with a steam rocket he’s been working on for Mad Mike Hughes. Waldo’s projects are always fascinating as he’s worked with a lot of different groups over the years in racing and in rocketry. He’s also been working with Compton College on the planning of their large liquid rocket. The RRS is also glad to be a part of Compton College’s ambitions to build a liquid rocket.

Mario and Oscar of Compton College with RRS member, Kent Schwitkis listen to Bill Behenna present his latest avoinics payload project to be built for the RRS alpha.

RRS member, Kent Schwitkis and a couple of his students from Compton College came to the society meeting. There are many bright students at Compton College interested in working with the RRS and we have already began to assist each student with tasks specific to projects their working at the college.

Bill Behenna shows his latest prototype of an alpha payload to measure acceleration and barometric pressure.

We decided to showcase our membership project first before beginning our agenda which was a very good idea. Bill Behenna has been hard at work on his avionics payload to be built to fly in the many RRS standard alphas we have at most of our launch events.

After calling the meeting to order and the reading of the treasury report, the RRS began our September meeting agenda.

(1) Next Launch Event at the RRS MTA with LAPD CSP and Boyle Heights

The RRS has finished with the last classroom presentation of the series. The students have painted their rockets and are ready for the final launch day, next Saturday, September 21, 2019. After propellant loading, the RRS will be ready to receive our next group to watch their handiwork take flight in the desert.

(2) RRS facility improvements

Osvaldo has been leading the task of evaluating facility improvements to the RRS. The main improvements under consideration are (1) improving our restroom facilities at the MTA and (2) replacing the old blockhouse at the MTA. Osvaldo has made some drawings of the new restroom facilities and is discussing the details with a vendor to get a quote.

In early August, our large adjustable rail launcher was damaged in a failed launch attempt of a large solid motor. Osvaldo began repairs and hopes to have the box rail system restored soon.

The RRS MTA site was also the victim of theft of many things from the George Dosa building. Security at our test site is difficult given its remote location. Several suggestions were made including adding cameras, improving our locks and doors, making opaque window inserts for the building, and simply being present at the site more often. The RRS has been the victim of theft before, but it is something that is never easy to recover.

(3) 2020 Constitutional Committee report

The committee was not able to make their report this month. Several factors have contributed to this delay over the summer. The committee will make its presentation to the society at the next meeting in October.

(4) Society votes on holding the 2020 RRS Symposium

After some discussion last month, the society decided that we will in fact hold the next RRS symposium in the Spring of 2020. Given the increasingly successful events we’ve had since 2017, and the many people who have encouraged us to keep this annual event, the administrative membership voted in favor. Frank Miuccio will again be our symposium coordinator and the RRS will be reaching out to presenters and exhibitors very soon. Our next order of business will be setting the date which is likely to be in the month of April.

(5) RRS to present at the CATIE conference at Antelope Valley College

Dr. Khalil Dajani of CSU Long Beach has invited the RRS to be one of the presenters at the Space Responsiveness Workshop and Exhibit at Antelope Valley College at the Hellenic Center in Lancaster, California. The 2019 California Aerospace Technologies Institute of Excellence will be held on Wednesday, September 18th where members from industry and the government will hear our presentation introducing the society and our capabilities at the Mojave Test Area. We hope to make some great contacts at this event and begin some new partnerships..

https://www.avc.edu/news/2019/Sept/space_responsiveness_workshop

(6) RRS social activities in planning

The RRS has focused a lot on educational and project activities, but we don’t often plan simple gatherings for fun. Larry had talked about having the RRS visit Mt. Wilson as a private group. At the meeting, we also talked about having a simple barbecue at the MTA as was done in times past. We plan to revisit this discussion again. Other members are welcome to share their ideas.

(7) RRS history project – Garboden archives

Lifetime member, George Garboden, has many boxes of papers and reports from the RRS in his possession that he would like to pass back to the society for archival. In support of the RRS history project, the society is always glad to get articles, clippings and any kind of archival materials and make them more available to our membership. Frank, Larry and I have been working on the logistics of getting a new storage location, but the most important step is finding the time to carefully make quality scans.

(8) Social media improvements

Alastair Martin announced the next pending episode of his podcast, Rocket Talk Radio. Other fellow RRS members, Dave Nordling and Richard Garcia, will take part in the next installment of the “Before SpaceX” series on September 28th. In this episode, we will be interviewing Jim French. Jim has had a long and interesting career as a rocket development engineer for the H-1 and F-1 engines at Rocketdyne in the 1950’s and later at TRW in the 1960’s with the Lunar Descent engine during the heyday of Apollo. His book “Firing a Rocket Engine” is available on Amazon.

“Firing a Rocket” by James French

Jim French also worked for a startup company called the American Rocket Company (AMROC) in Camarillo in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. We hope to have a great conversation and learn a lot about his experiences at this commercial space company.

(9) Memories of George Dosa

As our last order of business, we shared with the society that we lost one of our oldest and most beloved members of our society. In our long history, George Dosa, had a profound impact on the society and many of our past and present members.


The RRS adjourned our meeting after a long series of very interesting discussions. We are thankful to all for coming and we will be holding our next monthly meeting, October 11, 2019. If there are any changes or additions to make to this monthly report, please notify the RRS secretary.

secretary@rrs.org

February 2019 meeting

Inside the EAA 96 hangar at the Compton Airport. The meeting ran very late as you can see by the clock.
EAA 96 Hangar at the Compton Airport, 1017 W. Alondra Blvd., Compton, CA, 90220

The RRS met for our February monthly meeting at the EAA 96 hangar at the Compton Airport on Friday night, February 8, at 730pm. The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Local Chapter 96, was gracious enough to offer their main office boardroom. RRS members, Xavier Marshall and Wilbur Owens were kind enough to even provide food and drinks for our membership and guests. After reading of last month’s treasury report, we agreed to get an update next week as our president (doing the duties of the treasurer) was not able to attend this meeting. After the customary introductions of some of our visiting guests, we began the agenda.

Bill and Wyatt Janczewski at the February 2019 meeting at the EAA 96 hangar

(1) Discussion and task assignments for the 2019 RRS Symposium

The 2019 symposium will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2019. We have confirmed 8 of our 13 speaker slots and are working on building the panel discussion that will happen at the end of the symposium. We will likely soon fill all of our 13 speaker slots for the fourteen 30-minute sessions throughout the day. We have already confirmed several of our past speakers such as Northrop-Grumman and some new presenters such as the Air Force Space and Missile Command.

Frank said that the most important thing that all of our membership and friends can do is to spread the word and circulate our flyers as soon and as much as possible. Having an on-site food provider is in the works and John Mariano has offered to provide his brand, Celebrity Coffee, at the symposium. Based on the rate of (free) ticket sales through Eventbrite, we are on track to have a great symposium. We have 13 exhibitors confirmed and hope to have well over 21 exhibitors (last year’s total) by the time the symposium arrives. We are trying to pace events throughout the day to have a steady stream of participation from morning to afternoon.

Frank will soon be holding regular meetings to get as much of our membership involved with the myriad of tasks necessary to make the event fruitful and exciting. We ask all of our membership to do as much as they can. Ideas are always welcome, but people that can take action are appreciated even more. The RRS will not hold another symposium until 2021, so we would like to put as much of ourselves into this event as we can. Our symposium chairman is Frank Miuccio, please contact him or any of the Executive Council at any time.

vicepresident@rrs.org

president@rrs.org

secretary@rrs.org

treasurer@rrs.org

(2) Improvements to the RRS social media presence

In the months leading up to the 2019 RRS symposium, the RRS should look at improving our social media presence. One of the things we will do is post different advertising flyer designs on our Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Alastair and Bill have had fruitful discussions on this subject and would like to have recurring monthly spot on the meeting agenda as the RRS social media presence will always remain important in our bid to reach new and old members.

(3) Formation of the 2020 RRS Constitutional Committee

The RRS is an organization that has persisted for a very long time, but periodically, the way we operate has changed over the decades. The last time a review of the RRS Constitution was done was in the 1990’s. Although some amendments have occurred to update our organization, it has been observed that many improvements, clarifications or simple corrections need to be made to reflect how we operate today.

Alastair Martin, Wilbur Owens, Larry Hoffing and Frank Miuccio at the February 2019 meeting at the EAA 96 hangar at the Compton Airport; a Rocketdyne LR-101 vernier motor sits on the table

The RRS voted and approved the formation of a three-person Constitutional Committee consisting of one Executive Council member and two people from our regular membership. After a solicitation of our membership at the February meeting, the following people will form this temporary 2020 Constitutional Committee:

Frank Miuccio, Vice President

Larry Hoffing

Bill Janczewski

This 2020 committee will first gather up all known copies and amendments to the RRS constitution. It is important to best establish where we stand before proceeding with the editing process. Frank has much of these records and with this collection of information, the committee will create a new draft of the Constitution. The intent is not to make many (if any) changes so much as to make clarifications of roles and responsibilities in areas that have been vague or entirely absent.

After a great deal of effort, the RRS has updated our membership roster as best as we have been able to do so. We continuously call upon our past and present membership to pay their dues and remain active during this important time. Please contact the RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, or make your payment to the RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti.

treasurer@rrs.org

president@rrs.org

With the 2019 Symposium around the corner, our priority is to execute the April 27 symposium. Therefore, the 2020 committee will not have to report back to the RRS until our September 13, 2019, meeting. Having the whole of the summer of 2019 should allow the committee to perform the laborious duty of researching and retyping the Constitution in such as manner that makes it clearer. The new draft or 2020 Constitution will then be reviewed numbered paragraph by numbered paragraph to assure a thorough review to approve portions that make sense and discuss others that may require adjustment.

Concerns were expressed about maintaining the requirements of our 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization when it was formed. These are important concerns which will be addressed. The committee will likely need to seek advice from our membership and they certainly will reach out as necessary throughout their working period this year.

This 2020 committee will then present their draft at the September meeting taking specific feedback and returning their final draft at the November 8 meeting. The new “2020” Constitution will then be put to a vote by our active membership. By our articles, this must be approved by a 2/3rd’s majority which may take some time to do. As any changes will largely serve for clarification, this draft of the Constitution, paragraph by paragraph should be able to be approved by the vote taken across our active membership with a deadline of the end of the year, December 31, 2019. Once the 2020 update to the RRS Constitution is approved, all prior drafts will be voided and the committee dissolved. Further, to avoid a permanent state of churn, it was agreed that after approval of the 2020 Constitution, no further amendments will be made for at least one year to allow the society to operate long enough to see where the problems are. A Constitution is a living document, but changes are purposefully not easy to make without a significant consensus of our active membership.

If there are any questions (which I am virtually certain that there will be), please direct them to the RRS Constitutional Committee chairman, Frank Miuccio

vicepresident@rrs.org

(4) Rocket Talk Radio

Alastair Martin has started a pod-cast called “Rocket Talk Radio” which is an hourly program that will talk about selected topics in the rocket business. These topics will be very relevant to the increasingly active world of space exploration. Alastair’s company, Production Tribe LLC, is producing the show to which RRS members, Dave Nordling and Richard Garcia, have agreed to be regular guests on the show. At the first show, we had Waldo Stakes as our first guest. As the show continues, Alastair will have other guests on the show to explore the many number of exciting topics happening today and in the near tomorrow.

Richard Garcia waves hello to the studio at the first podcast of Rocket Talk Radio

Alastair Martin’s company, Production Tribe LLC, will be producing more shows soon and we hope to provide links on our website, RRS.ORG, from time to time. For those seeking ROCKET TALK RADIO, please go to Alastair’s website WATCHHOLLYWOOD.TV at the link below.

www.watchhollywood.tv

The next program is expected to be next week where ROCKET TALK RADIO will discuss the growing market of small launchers.

(5) Paintball Tanks and Regulators Used in Amateur Rocketry

Cameron Harrington is both a student at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona and a sponsored competitive paintball sportsman. After having some very interesting discussions about these commercially available, robust and mass-produced high pressure tanks and regulators, it is clear that they can be useful in building a simple pressure-fed liquid rocket. Ninja is one popular brand of these tanks and regulators used in paintball guns. The 4500 psi composite-overwrapped pressure vessels hold a finite volume (e.g. 77 cubic inches) of compressed nitrogen gas better suited for pressurizing fuel tanks. The Ninja Pro V2 regulator is adjustable by internal shims to allow a finite range of discharge pressures (350, 450, 550 psi etc) which work in small liquid rocket engines.

Ninja Pro V2 paintball regulator, adjustable outlet pressure by shims
Cal Poly Pomona students visit the EAA 96 hangar machine shop at the February 2019 meeting of the RRS

Cameron gave the society a brief overview of his experience with this hobby sport equipment and his experience in building a liquid rocket system. The society is considering buying a few of these devices for liquid rocket prototypes that will ultimately lead to a standardized design that the society can use and offer to other universities seeking a common-sense plan to flying a liquid rocket.

A simplified diagram of a pressure-fed, bi-propellant liquid rocket; valves and regulators have been omitted

(6) Ramiro Rodriguez, Deputy State Fire Marshal, CAL FIRE

The RRS was happy to be visited by Ramiro Rodriguez, Deputy State Fire Marshall with the California State Fire Marshal’s office (CAL FIRE). Deputy Rodriguez has been with CAL FIRE for over 19 years and largely supports Fireworks and the Motion Picture industry. He is glad to visit with amateur rocketry groups to see what our concerns and needs are. CAL FIRE has been busy streamlining and examining their processes to better serve the public and groups such as ours who benefit from CAL FIRE..

RRS members Drew Cortopassi and Chris Lujan sit on opposite sides of our special guest, Deputy State Fire Marshal Ramiro Rodriguez of CAL FIRE

Amateur rocketry, much like with hobby rocketry, is governed by the state laws and regulations concerning fireworks. The four primary duties of CAL FIRE are prevention, engineering, education and enforcement. They train fire departments and fire service professionals. They also are responsible for resource management in the state of California such as forestry and watershed projects. They are the licensing authority for all 12 classes of pyrotechnic operators including the 3 classes of rocketry pyro-op’s. Ramiro answered questions by our membership and attendees.

Pyro-op’s must be 21 years old, have a clean criminal record and must submit an application to the state with five letters of recommendation from active pyro-op’s at or above the class level that they are applying. CAL FIRE is willing to accept expired pyro-op licenses as long as that license hasn’t lapsed more than a year. This is a common problem in many groups that pyro-ops allow their licenses to lapse out of financial necessity or simple neglect. The RRS is very active in our goals to acquire and advance more pyro-ops not only for our society, but for the amateur rocketry community at large.

Ramiro read some statistics from CAL FIRE’s database, that there are only 10 active first-class rocketry pyro-ops in the entire state of California. Only 10 active second-class rocketry pyro-ops and 34 active third-class pyro-ops remain throughout the large expanse of the Golden State. Concern has been raised by the amateur rocketry community about the difficulty in acquiring five active and relevant signatories when pyro-op’s want to advance their level. CAL FIRE is considering ways of making this process easier to do as they would like to see an increase in the number of rocketry pyro-ops in the state of California. The obvious solution is to require a lesser number of signatories for applicants, but CAL FIRE has not made a decision on exactly what they intend to do.

Concern was also expressed regarding the necessity of the two-year waiting period between achieving rocketry classes. Some applicants have a large amount of experience either professionally or in activities with their society. Ramiro had said that CAL FIRE does have some discretionary authority to recognize significant experience in proving an applicant suitable to advance to the next level, but he underscored the importance of log sheets and the responsibility of all pyro-ops and trainees to take accurate clear records of the work that they do. Put simply, the more familiar CAL FIRE is with your activities, the easier it becomes for them to evaluate you.

This is a rich subject which many more had other questions, but given the late hour, we concluded by appreciating Ramiro’s time and was happy to make his acquaintance. The RRS and CAL FIRE have had a long, positive relationship and hope to continue to do so. The RRS has extended an invitation to Ramiro or another deputy from CAL FIRE to come visit our private testing site when we will hold another event on April 6th with the student of Crenshaw Elementary with the LAPD CSP.

first design of the 2019 RRS symposium flyer, Jan 2019

We also gave CAL FIRE an electronic file of our 2019 RRS Symposium flyer and have invited CAL FIRE to be a presenter and/or exhibitor at the Symposium.

(X1) Experimental Aircraft Association, Local Chapter 96

The RRS was happy to have our February 2019 meeting hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 96 at the Compton Airport. Xavier Marshall is both an RRS member and the vice president of the EAA 96. The EAA 96 is encouraging hobbyists such as those in the RRS to become members as we have many areas of common interest. Aircraft and rockets require hands-on machining skills which the EAA 96 is willing to share with new members. To become a member of the EAA 96, you must join both the national and local chapter. Right now (but discount offer soon to expire) they are offering 3-years of membership for only $99 which covers both the local and national membership.

Presses and sheet metal working tools at the EAA 96 hangar at the Compton Airport

Xavier gave the RRS and visiting students from Cal Poly Pomona a tour of their machine shop which has a large lathe, a horizontal and vertical mill. The hangar is accessible to members 24/7 and the EAA has many members happy to help those needing to learn practical machining skills. This is a great opportunity for many of the RRS who do not have regular access to machining. The RRS is largely about making our own custom parts and the EAA 96 is an excellent resource to help.

Xavier Marshall leans against a large sheet metal brake in the EAA 96 machine shop

For questions about joining the EAA 96, please contact Xavier Marshall or Wilbur Owens

xavier.marshall@gmail.com

wil.owens@cox.net

Vertical mill at the EAA 96 machine shop

(X2) Visit to the Rocket Lab at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum

Given the late hour, we were unable to take our society membership and visitors on a tour of the Rocket Lab at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. Waldo Stakes has been very active in this project to bring a small group of Compton locals to build a small liquid rocket of their own. On display at the meeting was a Rocketdyne NA-LR-101 liquid vernier rocket motor that they hope to static fire at the RRS MTA. This 1000-lbf kerosene/liquid oxygen rocket has been commonly used in past amateur rocketry projects due to its robust design, however, as these surplus motors are becoming more scarce, it is important to appreciate having such an asset for learning. The RRS is happy to help the Compton group with their goals in flying this motor in a future design.

It was suggested that the RRS hold their March 8th meeting at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum at the Rocket Lab. Although this is a fine suggestion, the RRS had planned to return to our regular location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. That being said, the RRS would like to schedule an event at the Rocket Lab very soon. The RRS will let our membership know when this visit to the Rocket Lab can be scheduled.

(X3) Upcoming testing events at the RRS MTA

As was mentioned a little earlier, the RRS has set a new class with the students of Crenshaw Elementary School through the LAPD CSP. The first class will start on Friday, March 1, and run each Friday until the launch event we will hold at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on April 6th.

The RRS classes continue to be very popular and we are glad to share our hobby and passion for rocketry and learning.

RRS member, Michael Lunny, has been working with his local high school, Redondo Union, were they intend to enter rocketry competition to launch a rocket payload with 3 eggs and subsequently land it by parachute. We hope they can come visit the RRS at the next meeting on March 8th. Redondo has expressed interest in launching at the MTA in late March.

(X4) Groups wanting to test at the RRS MTA

For all groups interested in working with the RRS or with testing or launching from our Mojave Test Area, please download and fill out our Standard Record Form from the RRS.ORG website under “Membership” tab, then under “Forms”. All requests must be filled out with a complete set of contact information and a full description of the testing. The most important thing is to declare your test date and hold to this date as resources have to be scheduled. All requests must be submitted to the RRS president for the society to review.

president@rrs.org

IN CLOSING

Our next meeting will be on Friday, March 8th, at our usual meeting location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. If there are any questions, please let the RRS secretary know:

secretary@rrs.org