February 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting Friday, February 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. After reading the treasury report, we proceeded with the meeting agenda as listed on the “Forum” earlier this week.

Attendees at the 9-FEB-2018 RRS meeting

The RRS was glad to welcome new student members Jack and Brayden who come from the former Chaminade High School Rocket program. The RRS will be supporting their project to launch a boosted dart ultimately to an altitude of 150,000 feet or more. This work fits nicely into the RRS goals with the SuperDosa project and Jack and Brayden have made a lot of progress already thanks to the help of their sponsors and supporters including the RRS’s own Dave Crisalli. Last year, Jack and his team had a successful motor grain test at the MTA and they are looking to build upon this success for an even larger hot-fire test. RRS as a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group is glad to support our members.

On this Friday, the RRS has started the first of five classes with our third group of students from Florence Joyner Elementary School in Watts in conjunction with the LAPD CSP program. The program will seek to schedule a tour of the California Science Center at some point and the five session program will culminate in a launch event at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on March 24, 2018. The launch date has not yet been confirmed so please look for updates on the “Forum” portion of this webpage.

On this same subject, Michael has been working with his contacts at Redondo Union High School to find a way to begin an educational program with the RRS. The RRS is glad to work with new and returning schools in our educational programs. For more details, contact the RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing. events@rrs.org

On our third agenda topic, we talked about the progress made to date for the 75th anniversary RRS symposium. We have had great responses from our prior exhibitors and speakers as many are returning for this year’s event on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Our event will have speakers and exhibitors from the aerospace industry, government agencies and academia. The speakers slots have filled up fast so we hope to have our final confirmations given to us soon.

Frank has made the first flyer for this event and we encourage everyone to download a copy and share with everyone interested in attending this event covering topics of professional and amateur rocketry.

first flyer for the RRS 75th anniversary symposium

Frank has said that there is still much to do in preparing for the symposium. This event will likely be bigger than last year’s so we will really need our membership to pitch in and help make this year’s 75th anniversary a success. Weekly phone teleconferences will begin in two weeks. Frank will notify people of their assignments and we will discuss progress at these meetings.

Our fourth topic on the agenda discussed the progress I have made with the parachute recovery system I have built for an RRS standard alpha rocket. We launch many of these at our school events at the MTA and even with our membership making their own. I would like to see more of our members and high schools working with making payloads for the alpha. Given the small size of electronics these days, there are many more possibilities for flying instruments and recording data.

parachute and tethered nose cone for RRS standard alpha rocket

My time was very limited as the meeting was running late and I was only able to show the key parts of the parachute system still in build. Chris Lujan showed me some better knots for securing my nose cone and tether line to the internal bulkhead. I also showed the 3D-printed plastic umbilical port that Richard Garcia kindly built for me which will make switching on RRS alpha payload much easier if they use PVC payload tubes. I will compile more details soon and if this subject is still of interest, I can elaborate more at the March meeting.

Modified 555 timer chip with solid state relay replacing a mechanical relay. Umbilical part in the upper left.

I have also been working on a horizontal thrust stand built to test RRS standard alpha rockets. This would allow members to record thrust from the S-type load cell donated to us by Interface Force Inc. of Arizona. All of the structural members have been cut, but the adapter pieces need some changes to make a simpler connection. Thanks to Osvaldo for improving my load cell adapter design.

RRS horizontal thrust stand parts with S-type load cell

For our fifth agenda topic, Frank Miuccio, inspired by the device built by the Space and Missile Systems Heritage Center (SMC) of Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) in El Segundo, made his own little rocket air launcher. This simple tool takes an air pump to compress the sealed interior space of PVC piping behind a simple sprinkler valve.

Frank’s mini-rocket air launcher using a car-tire pump

Once inflated and everyone is at a safe distance away, the rocket is slipped over the angled launcher tube and is fired by releasing the valve and reservoir of air pressure behind it. Very simple in operation, it is quite fun to play with and we think the kids in our educational programs will think so also.

RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, holds a 12-inch plastic rocket launched from the pump driven air launcher; Larry and Frank discuss

As the last agenda topic, Richard had mentioned that the modifications to his cryogenic methane dewar were complete and that the vessel was back at the MTA. As we were out of time, Richard can explain the details more at the next meeting in March.

The meeting adjourned but several of us watched Frank and Chris test fire the small rocket air launcher that Frank had built from Home Depot parts and a battery powered car tire pump. Despite the darkness of night, we were able to recover these small 12-inch vehicles aided by the inclusion of a blue LED in the nose. We had more than a little fun popping these little rockets as high as 100 feet.

If there is anything I have missed or misstated, please let me know:

Our next meeting will be Friday, March 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. See you there!

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.

November 2017 meeting

The RRS held its November monthly meeting at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator in downtown Los Angeles. Our regular location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena was closed for Veteran’s Day on Friday, November 10th.

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)

Meeting topics included the upcoming launch event with the kids from the Imperial Courts neighborhood. This event was postponed to November 18th and was greatly anticipated as the kids worked hard and learned a lot in the five-week program put on by the RRS events team with the help of the LAPD CSP program.

Imperial Courts students prepare their paper rockets for launch

The program included a tour of Los Angeles Air Force Base at the SMC Heritage Center with Lt. Col. Alec Porter where the kids got to build and launch paper rockets.

Paper rockets at LA AFB with the Imperial Courts RRS class

USC Impact News has been documenting the whole Imperial Courts class program including the launch event at the MTA. The RRS looks forward to seeing their finished program at the end of the semester this December 2017.

The programs with LAPD CSP have been very successful and another program with Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School is in the works for early next year.

The RRS symposium is in the planning stages for the upcoming 75th anniversary symposium on April 14, 2018. Several invitations to presenters and exhibitors have been issued and more are in the works. Frank Miuccio is leading the symposium again and we hope to have an even grander event for the public on this special occasion.

The Astrojet newsletter still needs submissions! We have had several interested parties, but no submittals have been received.

Please! Submit your drafts to the RRS secretary right away.

The Astrojet newsletter was the original publication started by the RRS when it was founded by George James in 1943. We thought it fitting to issue this one-time edition of the Astrojet for our 75th anniversary on January 6, 2018. It will be available in print only and the funds collected will support the RRS in our anniversary year events. Issues will be available by mail to our membership and other interested parties for a cost of $10 per issue.

Nominations of next year’s officers for the RRS took place at the meeting which is our normal custom. Voting by the administrative membership is underway and the results of the elections will be announced at the December 8th meeting. The meeting will be at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, as usual at 7:30pm.

Please let me know if I have missed or misstated anything in this post. See you at the next meeting.