December 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting, December 8, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. With the wildfires throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties, many of our members had difficulty making it, but we were still well attended. We started late at 8:01pm.

Larry announces election results for RRS officers in 2018

In old business, we discussed the successful launch event on November 18th with the LAPD CSP and the kids of Grape Street Elementary and the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts. The kids actually recovered 11 of the 13 rockets launched and even found two others from the previous program. This was a very impressive feat given how easily an alpha can get lost in the desert scrub.

The event with Imperial Courts included a tour of Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo. At this event, the kids made paper rockets and used a pneumatic launcher provided by the officers at the Space Heritage Center. This was a very popular event so Frank bought a launcher for the RRS. We may build another one to have at the MTA. They simple and a very easy way to demonstrate the principles of good rocket building.

In new business, Larry Hoffing, our RRS election chair announced the results of officer elections for the new year, 2018.

Osvaldo Tarditti, president
Frank Miuccio, vice-president
Chris Lujan, treasurer
Dave Nordling, secretary

I am glad to serve the RRS for another year as your secretary.

Osvaldo brought coffee!

In the second order of business, I reminded all of our attendees and to our members reading this, that your $40 annual dues should be paid to keep the society running. I like to remind people at the start of a new year to pay their dues. We have a lot of things planned for our 75th anniversary year and we should start things right by renewing our memberships. The “DONATE” button on the RRS website works through Paypal and for some can be a convenient way of getting their dues paid straight to the RRS. Osvaldo gets a note once donations and payments are received, but each member can help the process by writing down in the comments segment what they are paying for such as “DUES” and include their name.

The students at Chaminade College Prep school in Chatsworth had a successful firing of two solid motors at the MTA that they made. They have approached the RRS on how they can continue their research. We have invited Chaminade to come to our meeting to present the results of their testing and discuss future endeavors.

The next RRS educational event through LAPD CSP will be early in the new year. Frank will be meeting with LAPD on January 12th to discuss the upcoming event with Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary school.

The RRS has been discussing the purchase of resources to continue supporting our growing launch events and the current projects we have started such as the SuperDosa project. After some basic discussion, this topic will be addressed in detail at the next month’s meeting when proposals and actual costs can be compared. The RRS needs to prepare specific cost proposals on improvement projects to better assist ourselves and potential donors in seeing what our needs are and how to best help us.

Frank was able to produce a short quantity of business cards for Larry who is running the education events for the RRS. We hope to get more schools involved and having a card helps leave our contact information with the right people.

The use of digital membership cards instead of paper ones was discussed. Given our membership numbers today, we are still able to provide paper membership cards to anyone specifically requesting one. Bill Janczewski has worked up a new design for these membership cards. To any of our membership desiring a membership card, please renew your dues, then contact the secretary by email providing your mailing address to receive this card. Or, send me an email letting me know you’ll be coming to the next monthly meeting.

secretary@rrs.org

Steve Majdali was in attendance at the meeting and brought his membership card from 2002. The new ones will look considerably better.

Steve Majdali’s RRS membership card from 2002

A short discussion about the details of the symposium in April was discussed. Food vendors will be solicited and we hope to make our vendor selection soon. Next month’s meeting will spend more time on the subject of the symposium which is coming soon. Frank Miuccio and I have begun soliciting speakers and exhibitors, some of which have already confirmed their attendance.

Submittals for the Astro-Jet newsletter are about to be closed. This was the last meeting to bring in articles. We have had some submittals, but we are still missing many others. PLEASE submit your articles to the secretary as soon as possible. Sale price of the Astro-Jet print copies will be $10 which is roughly the same cost as the quarterly newsletters of the society back in 1946 when scaled for inflation. Bill has worked up a basic layout and all we need is the final content to make it complete.

secretary@rrs.org

In other items that were not on the agenda, Bill Janczewski attended the downtown LA (DTLA) Maker Faire on Saturday, December 2nd. He felt this would have been an excellent venue for the RRS to have a booth and inspire people to join the RRS. The RRS will try to be part of next year’s event.

DTLA Maker Faire

Richard Garcia has had some success in working with the Friends of Amateur Rocketry next door. The FAR group had interest in Richard’s methane dewar and will borrow it for events at the FAR site. In exchange, the FAR group has made some modifications to the dewar including a cart for easier transportation of this heavy, vacuuum-jacketed vessel. Our thanks to John Newman and Steve Harrington. Richard will provide the RRS next month with a piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) to show the different features of the LNG dewar to assure safe operations.

As a last minute item, I reported some progress with modifying my timer circuit for my alpha parachute system which will hopefully fly at the next MTA event. Many thanks to Andrew Ning for his advice and practical skills. After replacing the relay with a lower-current solid state device, the circuit works much better. Still, I need a 3D printed plastic part to mount my recessed switch into the PVC payload tube I have made. Frank said he could help me get a prototype printed if I provided the solid model files.

The RRS welcomes two new members: Dr. Nancy Squires and Mr. Michael Lunny. Michael came to his first meeting last night and we were glad to show him the fruits of our labor from this busy year.

Our final event at the meeting was watching the final program made by the USC Impact News team who followed the entire progress of the Imperial Courts class with the RRS including the launch event. It was very professional and a touching reminder of why the RRS has our mission to educate and inspire. We hope to have copy of this program to show our audience sometime in the near future.

We adjourned at 9:17PM.

Please let me know if I have missed or misstated anything here. Our next meeting will be January 12, 2018. In the next meeting, we will discuss the next launch at the MTA and expand upon the work necessary for the upcoming symposium. I will also present the quarterly update to the SuperDosa project.

Hope to see you there.

MTA launch event, 2017-11-18

The RRS held a launch event with the Imperial Courts class on November 18, 2017 at our private Mojave Test Area (MTA). This launch event was the latest in a series of events we’ve had through the support of the LAPD CSP program. The event had 13 alpha rockets including 3 of these having smoke tracers in the payload section and the last one with a pair of keychain cameras on the tail. The USC Impact News crew was also in attendance to document this last event in the series with the Imperial Courts class.

Dave Crisalli was our pyro-op for this event. I was glad to assist on the loading and launching operations.

smoke tracer lead wires sticking out from the payload tube

One of the keychain cameras was only a dummy to balance the rocket. The actual camera was first thought to have been destroyed on launch only to be found a few inches into the soil when the rocket was recovered by shovel. We hope to show the footage if the data on the chip was also intact.

last alpha with the two cameras on the fins, one dummy, one actual

smashed keychain camera with XD memory chip still in place

Osvaldo tried a new method of loading of the micrograin propellant in preparing the alphas for this event. His method involved weighing out the whole propellant load and pouring it all at once in a large funnel being careful not to trap air pockets. Knocking on the side of the metal tubes with a wooden hammer is done to encourage settling then slowly lowering a heavy machined aluminum piston on a string down into the tube to gently but firmly tamp the propellant down and get a better and more consistent packing density in the tubes.

big funnel with aluminum piston on a string; new alpha loading method

The weight of the loaded alphas at the MTA before launch did show a small improvement by being slightly heavier from more propellant packed in the same tubes. The main advantage was the loading procedure was less messy than the prior method of incrementally loading the powder propellant then bouncing the bottom of the tube on a wood block. Despite the best efforts with this approach, small air pockets in the packed powder “grain” often results with packets of micrograin burping back up the tube getting on the propellant loader.

Osvaldo gives instructions on the weighing of the alphas before flight

The alphas from Imperial Courts had bright color schemes from each of the individual teams. Having each of the rockets labelled with the paper tags was very helpful in keeping track. We should continue this practice for future events.

alphas from the Imperial Courts class

I have been slowly working on a small horizontal thrust stand to incorporate the load cell transmitter donated to the RRS by Interface Inc.
Interface Inc. – Precision Load Cells

An existing concrete pad with a three anchor-bolt pattern will be used and I have the first piece which is a steel footing plate to mate up with the hole pattern. Many thanks to Matt Moffitt of CNC Specialty Machining of Huntington Beach, CA, for his craftsmanship.

anchor plate for an RRS horizontal thrust stand

The students of Chaminade High School in Chatsworth also hot-fired their 4-inch solid rocket motors of their own making. After resolving some problems with the casing, the results of the firing were good.

4-inch solid motors from Chaminade High School

We also hosted UCLA as they hot-fired their liquid rocket. They attached their propellant tanks to one of our thrust frames for a full system demonstration.

UCLA NO2 and kerosene liquid rocket being mounted for firing

UCLA makes final preparations for firing

After a lot of preparations and waiting until after sunset, UCLA’s hot-fire did not disappoint those of us who stayed into the cool hours of dusk. Their nitrous-oxide and kerosene liquid rocket fired for full duration and to what looked like great results.

UCLA fires for full duration.

RRS director of research, Richard Garcia, with his brick as a camera tripod

We thank all of the parents and the LAPD officers who made the event a success. Also, many thanks to Dave Crisalli and the RRS membership who helped with the hundreds of things that needed to be done. We look forward to the next launch event at the MTA early next year.

July 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting last night on July 14, 2017 at our usual spot at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA. We got started a little late, but we covered all of our agenda items.

We have two new members, Drew Cortopassi and Alastair Martin, joining the RRS. Both were in attendance at the meeting and we were glad to have them join us.

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Larry gave us an update on the RRS alpha build event we’re doing with the students of Jordan Downs in Watts. John Mariano gave his presentation last week and Larry has started the build event portion. This event has been sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) which will be bringing a lot of talented kids from the inner city of Los Angeles. Local television crews filmed the event and the final day of painting of the student rockets is happening today. We hope to have the video spot on our YouTube channel very soon.

Jordan Downs build event with the RRS

LAPD CSP – About Us page

The students from Jordan Downs will launch 10 alpha rockets with one more alpha launched by LAPD. It will be a great day next Saturday, July 22nd, at the MTA.

Jordan Downs alpha rockets painted and ready

To any school or private group that would like to conduct a rocket build event with the RRS, please contact us at:
events@rrs.org

I will be launching an alpha of my own at the event with a PVC payload section. Our director of research, Richard Garcia, and RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, were helping me with some payload issues I’m resolving.

Dave Crisalli has also been working with students at the Chaminade College Preparatory School in Chatsworth, CA. They have built a solid rocket motor to test at the MTA on the July 22nd event. Dave was a graduate of Chaminade and has been our pyro-op on many MTA launch events.

Chaminade College Preparatory School

Our discussion moved to the details of managing the upcoming launch event at our Mojave Test Area (MTA) on next Saturday, July 22nd. This is a private event, but we host these with many students, universities and private individuals with our membership.

We had discussed how the launches should be conducted as early as possible to avoid what will likely be an oppressively hot summer day for our young students. All of our invited attendees should make an extra effort to be at the MTA by 10:00AM, which means leaving the city before 7:00AM. There were also concerns related to safety once we get into launch mode. Once the safety briefing is conducted (likely around 11:00AM) and all people are moved into the observation bunker, the roads will be closed to traffic. No one will be allowed in or out until the last volley is fired as is our policy.

Attendees at the MTA are recommended to wear hats and sunscreen at all times. Bring as much ice and water as you can. And most importantly…drink this water and fluids as often as possible. Many people don’t know they have become dehydrated until after the ill-effects set in (then its too late). Drink often even if you don’t feel like it.

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I gave a short update on the SuperDosa project. We have decided to build a ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) to have the ability to conduct propellant evaluation tests. There are a few different approaches to getting accurate burn rate data, but I felt that the BEM approach would be the most beneficial despite the added complexity. Osvaldo has the plate and round stock I bought for this small but tough little test rig. Richard Garcia is working on the dust recovery and ducting to restart his graphite machining capabilities. I hope to get a few nozzle pucks made and hopefully begin testing this fall.

RRS ballistic evaluation motor design concept

More work in trajectory and performance modelling needs to be done. The details on the initial SuperDosa design are still a bit in flux. Neither Richard nor I had any progress to report on this front.

The discussion moved to propellant procurement. We are looking at acquiring some AP oxidizer which shouldn’t be a problem. The HTPB binder chemical, however, has really climbed up in cost. PBAN is another option we’re considering. Someone mentioned asphalt was used in the early days, but it’s not clear what the disadvantages are.

We had briefly discussed making rocket candy just for the initial samples to test and qualify the BEM test rig. It was decided that Chris Lujan would cook a small batch of sugar/KNO3 at the MTA and pour into some 3/4″ PVC sample cases. I hope to be able to document the process and present this in a report. This is a common mixture, but the purpose is to help more people become better at this task. Many of our members have experience in making the rocket candy mixture, but it helps to standardize the process and always watch out for safety issues.

MIT student, Sean Austin, was in attendance at the meeting. He had mentioned his university lab had built a strand-burner to test propellant samples. They had a lot of issues getting reliable test results, but he was happy to share their design with the RRS. A strand burner design is simpler to make and if the RRS has the right materials and tools, we may build a strand burner to supplement our BEM.

Richard Nakka’s rocketry page has a lot of great details on this subject of solid propellant burn rate testing methods and data collection.

strand burner
Nakka – strand burner test rig

ballistic evaluation motor
Nakka – BEM concept illustration

solid propellant, burn rate testing, in general
Nakka – burn rate testing in general

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Four members from the UCLA IREC team came to present their results from this year’s competition at Spaceport America north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The rocket launch competition is supported by universities across the country and the event is managed by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA).
2017 IREC competition – Spaceport America

I had asked UCLA to come show us the fruits of their team’s hard work done at the RRS MTA. UCLA had some issues resolved, but ran into other problems at the launch site. Heat was a factor which resulted in the payload computers not working. A great deal was learned and UCLA will surely leverage these lessons into next year’s build.

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

UCLA presents IREC results to the RRS

The RRS would like to thank UCLA students, Nakul Gupta, Caleb Lessard, Edward Shen and Nick Knenning for presenting. The RRS looks forward to continuing our support of UCLA and other universities as they advance their rocket projects.

The UCLA Rocket Project will conduct more cold flow testing of their liquid rocket systems at the RRS MTA at the July 22nd event, but priority will be given to the student alpha launches to conduct the events as early in the day to avoid the hottest hours at the site.

Also, in attendance at the meeting was MIT student, Sam Austin. Sam is in Los Angeles this summer on an internship with Northrop Grumman. Sam was part of the MIT team at the IREC competition and related some of his team’s results. MIT did well taking 2nd place, but as always, there are new things to learn or things to do better. Sam had indicated interest in attending the upcoming launch at the MTA. We hope he’ll become a student member of the RRS to do so.

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The RRS history project continues as our current membership has been reaching out to our founders and other members from the earliest days of the society. We hope to share some of this with our readers and members very soon. Frank had found another set of RRS newsletters from 1989-1991 which he gave to Richard Garcia, our director of research, for scanning and archiving.

As always, if anyone has any RRS or related literature that they would like to offer to be scanned for the society, please let Richard know:
research@rrs.org

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I had presented the general topic of how to generate more revenue for the society. The RRS is funded by our membership in the form of dues, donated time to support events, monetary and material donations and such. I wanted to solicit ideas about how the RRS can pursue other avenues to bring in more funds to better support the programs we have and the new programs we hope to do soon.

One classic idea is to produce RRS-logo branded things like T-shirts, coffee cups, even metal rulers. I have seen older RRS branded items in the past and although the profit margins can be thin, it’s a fine fund-raising idea to consider. John Mariano had a few other ideas for fund-raising he brought up in a previous meeting this year.

The RRS is looking at grant programs both in the private sector and with government agencies. The RRS is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group which has had success with several schools already and we intend to expand our outreach as we find schools and organizations able to help us bring the joy of rocketry. Donations from private companies and individuals is another avenue we’ll pursue. If anyone has any specific programs or ideas in mind, please contact the RRS vice president, Frank Miuccio.
vicepresident@rrs.org

One idea I had which was accepted was to publish an issue of the RRS Astrojet newsletter on our 75th anniversary on January 7, 2018. Although the RRS has not published a paper newsletter in quite some time, it was a popular item in its day. The newsletter would be the same 12 page format used throughout our history with articles from many of our members including George James, George Dosa and others as we bring this idea home. The 75th anniversary Astrojet newsletter will only be available in print and delivered by mail for a nominal price ($10?) to help fund the RRS’s growing activities.

Another idea put forth was to attempt the rocket mail flights done in the early days of the society. More thought and discussion would be necessary to see how feasible this would be, but I liked the idea?

The RRS may look to have some corporate sponsorship of the 75th anniversary symposium if this is possible.

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Frank made the announcement of the upcoming 75th anniversary RRS symposium on April 14, 2018. This will be a public event at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center where we will have speakers from universities, government agencies and private companies.

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Frank also mentioned that he’ll be taking a trip to JPL with RRS founder, George James, later this month. Besides a tour, the RRS hopes to have a conversation with the K-12 education outreach coordinator at JPL on this visit. Frank will post an update on the website after this event.

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We adjourned late, 9:20PM, well after the 9PM closing time, but we covered a lot. If there is anything I missed or misstated, please contact me at my RRS email below.
secretary@rrs.org

For those desiring to apply to join the RRS, either as full members or as student members, download our RRS membership application form from this website and send it to the RRS by email or our post office box in Los Angeles.
president@rrs.org

Reaction Research Society
P.O. Box 90933
Los Angeles, CA, 90009-0933

Our next meeting will be August 11, 2017, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center.

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