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.

The RRS program at Boyle Heights was a success. The air launcher is a great teaching tool.
The balloon on a string is another great illustration of the jet propulsion principle.
RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio, gives one of his classroom presentations at Boyle Heights Elementary.

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